that music still rings in my mind as the first time when it impacted my life as an 8-year-old child. Back in the
mid 80’s when I was showing off my new Walkman and living up to its ideal of walking everywhere with music, it was rare to see.Nobody in my elementary school had that luxury.
As I listened away, I remember walking through the high majestic glass doors to my ‘Arts School’ where I had started my musical training a few years before. As a child, this majestic building looked more like a grand mansion to me. I entered the lobby as I usually would but was suddenly distracted by a security guard friend of mine signaling me to come to the front desk. I lifted the right headphone off my ear as he started to ask me what I was listening to. I said: “It’s Chopin, the most beautiful music.” He laughed. I then took the earphones off and placed them on his ears. His eyes opened wide with shock as he listened till the end of the Piano concerto No. 1, Romance slow 2nd movement. To me, this composition was and still is now one of the most beautiful compositions ever written for piano and orchestra. This music was clearly very touching to my humble friend as well, and it was obvious through the change of his facial expressions that it was as if he had found a lost key to a door sealed for many years.When the music faded away at the end of the movement, he smiled with a sense of total awe, admiration and respect towards the music he had just witnessed as I gently took back the headphones. “The most beautiful music indeed,” he said with honest and humbled eyes. I knew for certain that something very special had occurred that moment. After all my music classes that night, I went back home and made a copy of the cassette tape for my friend. Back in the 80’s, giving somebody a copy of special music was truly appreciated since specially great classical recordings were very hard to find and some where only available in just a few mega cities around the world. The next day, when I presented the cassette to my friend with Chopin’s recorded music, his tears almost blossomed. From that day on, I knew teaching was my calling.
It took many years to understand why Chopin’s music was so special to me and to others who experienced it. The true essence of Chopin’s compositional style artistically unites poetry, art, song and dance into the sound of a piano. Chopin himself was a flowing vessel for the universal language of sound which embodied a total fusion of all art forms. His music was my best friend and accompanied me through the ups and downs from elementary school all the way to university when I was accepted to The Juilliard School in New York City.
I moved to China in 2001 right after graduation. At the time, it was still very rare to see Chopin’s music being programed at concerts in South China. Although ever since, we have seen a huge leap in the development of arts education and international culture around China and Chopin has been at the forefront of this international cultural development in past years. So last year, when I heard that Dr. Kanitzer, President of the International Federation of Chopin Societies (IFCS) was visiting Guangzhou as a Poly Ambassador for the Arts and would visit the newly finished impressive Poly Skyline Plaza towers, I was not going to waste the opportunity to try to convince him to join our efforts to further develop arts education and international culture in South China.
Having more cooperation with the IFCS would ensure Chopin’s legacy in China in a more popular and well-informed way, influencing the development of local arts.
This summer, the IFCS, Poly Hele Education, Poly Development and Hele China Charity Program are uniting forces to bring South China the first-ever Chopin International Arts Festival and Competition. Wuhan and Guangzhou, where the main Poly Hele Education headquarters are, will host gala festivals. The competition, however, will be national, spanning across several cities around China. Deadline for registering is June 1 and all students are welcome to participate and register for free. This competition is deemed to be the first ever in China’s history to give opportunity to students from all countries, all ethnic minorities and all levels of society. Winners will have the opportunity to perform with and learn from great masters from around the world, as well as getting the chance to go to Europe and be part of the Chopin Festival in Austria in August.
Chopin’s home in South China is undoubtedly at Poly Grand Mansion in Pazhou, where the Poly Hele International Arts Center (PIA) is located. This new Grand Mansion Arts Center will bring with it a legacy of hundreds of years to help develop education, arts and culture to the highest levels in our local communities. Chopin's music will be part of our arts education programs, starting from early education to adult education programs. With Chopin as one of our ethereal arts ambassadors, we look forward to building meaningful connections from our communities to the rest of the world through music and culture.