Year of the Fire Rooster

Around this time last year I wrote a post welcoming the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Fire Monkey, in which I considered what might lie ahead according to the Daoist Astrological traditions of ancient China.

It proved to be prescient in many ways – and also ended up being one of the most popular posts of the whole year! For a general introduction to Chinese astrology before reading on, it is worth looking back.

Continue reading Year of the Fire Rooster

An Interview with Koen Janssen

Regular readers will know that for several years I have been sharing my recordings on the SoundCloud website, as well as enjoying the music that others share there.

10859623_10205637512122610_416762303_nOne musician whose tracks have regularly impressed me is young Belgian composer Koen Janssen. Like many whose music I admire on SoundCloud, Koen does not come from a traditional background in music education – following piano lessons as a child he has largely taught himself, and his musical adventures have included stints as a DJ and playing in bands.

Having returned to more classical roots, his first EP of epic soundtrack and piano music is now available on iTunes. I was delighted to have a chance to discuss his musical journey with him …

As you read on, enjoy listening to this example of Koen’s music, ’Touch’:

Continue reading An Interview with Koen Janssen

Morning Sickness & Mahler

Why are there some composers that we just don’t really like?

That’s a question that has reappeared in my thinking at regular intervals since I read a blog post on Norman Lebrecht’s site Slipped Disc way back in 2014 entitled 10 Works of Composers you never want to hear again. 

All this time later, the comments section of that post is still receiving periodic additions as more music lovers choose to name and shame the music that particularly irritates them.

A Facebook group for classical music lovers has recently had popular threads asking such questions as:

  • Which is your least favorite, most cringe evoking piece of classical music?
  • Name your three least favorite composers.
  • Which instrument most offends your ears?????

Continue reading Morning Sickness & Mahler

How to Warm your Hands

Piano Qigong Exercises

Here’s a short video in which I explain and show you how to warm your fingers using a simple, gentle qigong massage technique:

Explore Piano Qigong:

The Darkness & The Light

As he prepares for a forthcoming recital at London’s Wigmore Hall and a chamber concert in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall (details below), concert pianist Emanuel Rimoldi considers the emotional landscape of the music he is rehearsing …

Guest post by Emanuel Rimoldi

Continue reading The Darkness & The Light

“The Lunar Tao”

Regular readers will have seen that I sometimes quote from the contemporary Daoist (Taoist) author Deng Ming-Dao, and as we rapidly approach the Chinese New Year it gives me pleasure to recommend his most recent book “The Lunar Tao”, published by Harper-Collins in 2013.

According to the publishers:

“The lunar calendar is a main pillar of Chinese culture, encompassing many stories and festivals. Deng Ming-Dao looks to the lunar calendar and highlights where these festivals and stories coincide with Taoism, giving readers a renewed and original way into this ancient philosophy.

Each day of the lunar year is represented with a reading meditation, original translations, illustrations and illuminating facts about festivals and traditions, providing readers with the context that gives Taoism such depth and resonance.”

Continue reading “The Lunar Tao”