I've always been a big dreamer, and they seem to keep coming true.
Laugh, Love and Live your dreams!
It's been a long journey, since I started this website and began 'Anna Kho Music'. So far I've completed two degrees, I've landed a dream job in teaching, and I feel a new space of positivity and balance. Also for once in my life, I won't be studying this year! So what's to come in 2018, you ask?
Firstly, teaching is most definitely happening. My love for teaching continuously increases every year, and I absolutely love my job! I have never enjoyed teaching so much before, and this year has definitely proven to be the best. My students are all incredible and have so much potential to bloom into beautiful musicians and people. I can't wait to see them grow year by year. I'm blessed with the amazing opportunities I've been given, and I hope to do my best for them all.
Secondly, Musicians Unmuted is definitely continuing into 2018! We've released 10 episodes so far, and episode 11 will be up very soon - many thanks to the hard working Daniel Kassulke, who is currently editing it to perfection. It features Peter Breen, which perfectly sums up our first season of episodes that focused on the future generation of the Brisbane music scene. Peter Breen has been an incredibly supportive member of the community, and is consistently looking out for young artists and musicians by supporting this scene through Jugglers Art Space, The Stairwell Project and his pure kindness and humility. Last year, Musicians Unmuted curated a concert dedicated to Peter Breen with invited performers from our previous episodes throughout the year. It was a successful concert, so we hope to do more of these in 2018 as well as new events, such as open panels and Q&A. Feel free to let us know your feedback on the podcasts!
In terms of my creativity as a performer, I'm sure to get back into it and begin planning my own concerts again. I miss it a lot, and perhaps crave for it. The thrill, adrenaline, and feeling of achievement and contribution to the Brisbane community. The podcast has been an incredible inspiration and influence to me, and a fantastic reminder of why I do what I do. Here is a video below of the final performance in Musicians Unmuted Concert 2018, directed by Jasmin Leung. It is such a beautiful sound in a beautiful space with beautiful people. This is why I love Brisbane, and this is why I chose the path I lead today.
I haven't entirely given up on studying. I think as a human, you are constantly learning and growing no matter your age. I even learn from my students, and that's the beauty of teaching. I want to continue to study for a Masters degree, and hopefully doing so by applying for an overseas university to begin a Masters of Music Psychology in Education in 2019. My dream is to continue teaching and performing, while completing this part time degree online. It will be a new journey of discovery once again, and I'm so excited to get into it.
I've always been a big dreamer, and they seem to keep coming true.
Laugh, Love and Live your dreams!
Another busy year of incredible and memorable moments with beautiful people in the Brisbane music scene. Here are a couple of photos from the events throughout 2017!
This year I was fortunate enough to perform for amazing productions, concerts and events. Due to majority of my time spent completing my Graduate Diploma in Education, not as many gigs occurred this year compared to previous ones. However, it made me appreciate my work more, and put all my effort into one gig at a time. It was a new experience, and I came to really enjoy my time in each rehearsal and performance. It was also my first year out of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, and at first it felt lonely to not be in that community anymore. Though at the same time, it felt like freedom to explore a new world of independent music as an artist to experiment and explore. Having said that, the demand of this degree allowed me to become more distant to my life as a musician. I practiced less, I played less, and all together my passion and motivation started to fade. Also not being around people who indulged in the music scene was something I missed, which I knew always gave me a boost. So, I guess, that's how Musicians Unmuted was born. I knew this degree would take up a lot of this year, and I promised to keep true to myself throughout it. One thing that always reminded me why I am who I am today was talking to people from the Brisbane music scene. Knowing why we do what we do to contribute back to the community. It started off as an idea, perhaps a personal desire or hobby, and it blossomed into something more than I could have imagined. I really appreciated the discussions, insights and topics that were raised with the podcast guests, and in return they appreciated the platform that allowed their words to be heard. There was also a great response and feedback from the public as well. Towards the end of this year, we celebrated our first year of podcast episodes by holding a concert at Jugglers Art Space. In addition, we also celebrated for Peter Breen, the director of Jugglers Art Space, and everything he has done for the Brisbane community. Of course, I could have never done it without the help of my lovely, hardworking and supportive colleague, Daniel Kassulke.
Although the photos capture the happy moments and the celebratory feeling this year may seem, unfortunately, with sunshine came rain, or shall I say an ongoing storm? This degree took a lot out of me this year. I've never hit so low in life before, and I know I've said that a few times in previous blogs, but I mean it this time. Perhaps for the first time I felt like quitting and accepted the potential faith of failure. I went into the degree lacking passion, motivation and simply tired of studying in the structure of a university. I was filled with doubt and hatred, and hoping it would come to an end. However, I needed this degree, for me and for my family. Along the way, I met new people, people that supported me, people that pushed me through the hardest times, and people that loved me. It made me realise that it wasn't music that I needed all along, but the warmth and love from the people.
Today I am proud to announce that I am a 2017 graduate of University of Queensland, and I have completed my Graduate Diploma in Education. I have a job next year at a beautiful school, I'm continuing my private teaching as well, and ongoing projects, such as Musicians Unmuted, will continue into the new year ahead.
Every year surprises me. I learn new things, I learn more lessons and see life from a different perspective again and again. This year, I learnt what it means to love. I thought I did before, but perhaps that was love for my career rather than it focused on those around me. Sometimes we can forget who we are, and it's those around us who act as mirrors to allow us to reflect.
Laugh, Love, Live to the lessons learnt and those waiting to be experienced!
Every musician has a voice. It can be a journey that all of us go through to find that individual voice. Some musicians don't find it, some musicians do, and some are still developing it. I've been through all these stages in my music career. It can be one of the most frustrating journeys, and sometimes feel like a dead end or may impact your choice to discontinue your music career. Is my voice worth something? Are people listening to my voice? Should I even bother anymore? It can be quite scary.
This all sounds very obnoxious and selfish, but I believe an individual voice and identity is important to musicians and to people in general. It defines who we are and our purpose in our lives and communities. Without it there is no point in waking up or doing something in our everyday lives. I guess, it's difficult for musicians to find a unique voice. Instruments may sound the same, music start to sound similar, and people start seeking a 'position' to fill rather than a 'voice'. In this industry, we start to become products, and the only thing motivating us is the audience, fans and self-satisfaction in what we do. The people give credibility to our voices, and gives us a sense of empowerment to make change through our art. Without feedback, we wouldn't know why we're here in the first place.
I remember the moment when I chose music as a career path, and started taking it seriously. I was performing with my high school percussion ensemble in front of a crowd of thousands, and millions if you counted the audience watching the televised performance. After the performance we got a standing ovation and a roaring cheer from the crowd. I remember standing there thinking, 'Wow, music has such an impact. Something so simple and short can move so many people. Something I loved was loved by others. If this is what it feels like to be a musician, then I want to pursue it. I want to make a change with my music, and continue doing what I love doing.' It was this moment that I felt I had a voice in music, and it meant something.
However, as I became more experienced I began to see the reality of the music industry. To have a voice, meant to have a product. To be labelled as a product kind of feels empty inside, and acts as another number and object in the world. It's because of this reason that I started questioning my voice, and whether its authentic or just another product. You would think an improvised voice in jazz or free improvisation was unique, but the sound is automatically stereotyped to a genre and style. Eventually, you're heard as another voice within that music community - another product.
I started questioning this through my experience with my jazz ensemble. At first, starting jazz felt like having a completely individual and unique voice. Compared to interpreting written classical works, I was arranging my own tunes and improvising with my own voice. I started exploring music further than traditional jazz, only to realise that some people in the audience just want to hear the good old jazz standard. I started viewing my ensemble, at first a free platform to explore and express, now becoming a product of entertainment. I was lost, and uncertain about my purpose in music. I didn't know what my voice was anymore. Was music like this the whole time, and I was just oblivious to it? It couldn't be, because why are all these musicians here in the first place? So what does it take to have a voice?
I started reflecting on all my experiences that I've had. I realised that a voice is having a meaning behind it. When you say something, it's a means of expression, a statement, or something from the heart and mind. It needs to have intention behind it to have presence, and that could mean the voice of a product or means of money making - and that's absolutely okay. As long as it has meaning, then the audience will believe it and so will you. If it doesn't, then what's the point playing music in the first place. For me, I like performing music with a story or idea behind it. My honours graduating recital was themed around the idea of 'Caged Wings', which is my personal story as a musician slowly freeing myself from constraints. For the first time, I also composed a piece for it. It was an incredible experience, and I felt like my voice meant something and people were listening too. Here are the recordings from my recital, which were recorded and mixed by Daniel Kassulke.
I think only recently did I discover that having a voice as a musician, doesn't mean it has to be through peformance. There are so many people out there who have a voice in the music industry through other professions, such as sound engineering, curatoring, managing, producing, directing, editing, educating and so on. They all express their voice and ideas through music, and you don't have to be a performer to do so. Recently, I started a podcast called Musicians Unmuted, and the episodes feature musicians and other professions in the Brisbane music scene to discuss topics and various issues in their lives. It was created by Maya Luski and myself, and recently we were joined by Daniel Kassulke as well. We're all passionate about podcasts and the Brisbane music scene, and we absolutely love our job! It's a non-profit project with so much potential, and we can't wait to see it grow into something amazing for you all to enjoy! Listen to our recent episodes below.
Most importantly, I believe your voice as a person is what's important. The voice, heart and mind is what drives the art, so you need to find yourself first to know what kind of voice you want. I think it's inevitable that life surrounding you will affect your voice, but as long as you stay true to it then it won't lose authenticity. I believe the musician's voice is always changing, because the world is constantly changing. The journey is never ending, and that's the exciting part about it. Every now and then you'll make an impact, and someone listening will take that and make their own impact - the world goes round and round. A voice can do so much, but I guess it doesn't matter unless an ear is nearby to hear it.
Laugh, Love, Live finding your voice!
Another new year means new beginnings! Here we are again, and today this website is 2 years old! Can you believe that!? It's not only a new beginning, but also a whole new chapter in Anna Kho Music. Late last year I graduated from my Bachelor of Music with Honours at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. I'm now studying a new path in music. I'm currently doing my Graduate Diploma in Education at University of Queensland. A new degree, a new university and a whole new campus and community. On my way to becoming a qualified teacher! On top of that there are all new projects coming your way this year! Here's one below:
That's right! I'm starting a new podcast with my friend, Maya Luski, who will be recording and the editing the episodes hosted by myself. There will also be many, many special guests to come! It's a podcast that focuses on the musicians and other professions in the Brisbane music scene, and will also feature different performance venues and upcoming local gigs and projects! Super exciting! You can even follow Musicians Unmuted on Facebook to keep yourself updated with the podcast episodes and more information on our beautiful music community in Brisbane.
Of course, Anna Kho Music room and private teaching still continues. If you're keen to get lessons, please feel free to contact me. This year I'm teaching percussion (mallets, snare, timpani and drum kit) and piano to new and ongoing students of all ages. They're a delightful bunch of passionate and aspiring musicians, which I can't wait to see them all progress this year. A couple of students are preparing for AMEB, Trinity or music school exams, and others are continuing their love for the instrument and music!
Gigs have already started this year with Anna Kho-tet kicking it off in February at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University on 21st Feb 2017. The concert was featured in a new concert series that I'll be running this year called 'Clazzical'. It is a concert series that brings together the world of classical and jazz music and musicians. It's time we celebrate cross-genre musicians, and their love and talent in both of the genres. Please message me, if you want to hear more about the concert or participate in it as a performer! On top of that, there will be many more exciting gigs coming your way. I've been invited to play with Nonsemble again at a Dots+Loops concert on May 19th 2017, which I'll be a featured percussion soloist alongside Jamee Seeto. We'll be performing my all time favourite, Above Ground by Robert Davidson, but this time all the movements! I'm so excited!!!! Definitely go check that out, and keep updated with the gigs and projects on this website or through my Facebook page.
Missed out on gigs from last year? That's all good! Some of them are uploaded onto my Soundcloud and YouTube channel. So go check them out! Here's one below:
Is there more? Of course there's always room for more! This won't be consistent, but I'm hoping to experiment with solo vocal and vibraphone. This is quite new to me, and I'm keen to give it a go. I want to focus on some more solo works in my free time, so I can expand my vocabulary and work on my own technique, expression and voice. I can't wait to get things going, and even compose some original works soon too! I'm keen to share you my music, and hopefully get some feedback for it too!
As you can see, 2017 will be filled with music in all shapes and forms. It'll be a busy year, but a thrilling one for sure. I hope you enjoy the music and projects that I'm sharing, and I hope to see you in the future at one of them too!
Laugh, Love, Live to new beginnings!
Ego. No one really likes that word, especially if it's directed at you. It's almost offensive, like an attack to your being and purpose in life. The more I observe my surroundings, especially the musicians around me, the more 'ego' I see and how common it is among musicians, and people in general. Ego, however, is important to an artist. You need it to gain confidence and drive your passion. It goes hand in hand with pride, and is perhaps one of the most vulnerable aspects an artist can possess.
I guess I wanted to bring it up, because it is so common. It's like the elephant in the room, and some people just don't want to admit it to each others' faces. It's due to the negative connotation we have with the word, and admitting it would be degrading our own status. I guess. People don't tend to talk about the negative things in life, but I do for reflection. So continue reading if you do too or if you're interested to know where this is going.
The point of this blog is because I went through quite a drastic change last year. Well, actually, across four years at my university. It only hit me the most in my last year, and I've become very aware of it. I'm talking about ego. Ego within myself.
I guess a lot of people watch movies or read books and assume ego to be the villain. It's usually the person who is blinded by their ego, which is the cause of their poor actions that lead to consequences. It could also be seen as someone being 'full of themselves', 'selfish', or usually someone at a higher status unable to acknowledge anyone below them. Or the dictionary puts it: ego (noun), a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance. However, have you ever thought about ego in good people, or the hero of the story? I know that sounds quite ironic, but the more I see it, the more it's becoming reality and the truth. I believe some kind hearted people believe that doing something right, makes them a better person. Makes them the 'good' person. In a way, it can be selfish. Sometimes people continue to do good deeds to fill up their need for compliments and appreciation. I know this sounds a bit strange, but hear me out.
Have you ever thought about people who don't want your help? People who have been through something that you wouldn't understand? People that want to go on this journey alone, without you. Or simply people who don't think alike. It's something I realised in my first year at university. It was the first time I saw ego in myself, and in an extreme way. I always wanted to help my fellow colleagues, because it's what I've been used to throughout my education. Tell them what to practice, tell them what to do. Clearly, I became quite bossy, and pretty much a 'bitch' - excuse the language. I couldn't understand it properly until I placed myself in their shoes. Then it all made sense. Sometimes people don't want your help, and that's okay. Maybe you feel special helping people, and it adds to your value and purpose as a person. That's what happened to me, and this is just one aspect of the good people's version of 'ego'.
Now the word 'special'. It's the status we all want to indulge in. To be in demand, to be unique, to be what everyone needs and wants, because you're special. It's what artists crave for. We want to be versatile, we want to stand out, we want to be what everyone is looking at. The spotlight, the star, the change in people's lives. We live off it. Well, I know I do. It's hard to admit. First, to yourself. Second, to your peers. Third, to the world. Hi, my name's Anna, and I have ego. I do know people who are delusional of their own ego, and I also know people who embrace it and acknowledge they have ego. Both are people who can be interpreted as good, and also bad. It's a human thing, I guess. I think having ego is healthy, but too much is not. Self awareness of the positives and negatives in life is what makes a person balanced and healthy. There is no sides. There is just you and your perception of what you are, and influenced by the opinions of your peers too.
Now I know this all sounds bias, but I discovered this through my research for my honours dissertation. It is titled 'Fear of Expression: A Mixed Method Analysis of the Causes of Music Performance Anxiety in Improvising Classical, Jazz and Cross-Genre Tertiary Percussionists'. Evidently, it focused on music performance anxiety, and that includes 'ego'! The more literature I read, the more it made sense. I have ego. I have pride. I have vulnerability in my status as a musician, AND as a person. I feared it being degraded or diminished by what I perceived as threats in practice, performance, music and life. You know what? That's okay! It's quite normal, especially because as artists we express our heart and mind to others. We're vulnerable on stage, and to receive negative feedback for it actually affects us as a person too. Music is who we are, and we are the music.
I'm at heart a self-conscious, low self-esteem, negative and judgmental character. Through music I've developed a stronger character to hide these factors, but they still live within me. It's just who I am. At first, I hated it. I was so upset and angry that I allowed myself to become this person, but they balance my overly optimistic side driven by passion that at times can be unaware of reality. Being aware of these characteristics and using them to your advantage with balance can assist you enormously.
During my research last year, I attended counselling sessions at my university. That's something I highly recommend to anyone and even if it's for a tiny issue, because it probably isn't. It was recommended and brought to my attention through a teacher of mine, and I decided to do it. I had never done anything like this before, but it was so worth it.
One day, I was found crying in the hallway due to feeling like a burden. At the time I had sprained both my knee ligaments. I was disabled and unable to transport gear, to practice standing for long hours, or even walk to another place without pain. I felt incredibly powerless for the first time in my life, and a 'nothing' to people around me. Most of the time I got pity faces and sympathy, and I do not like that at all. By that time I also knew I suffered anxiety and depression. I'm vulnerable at heart, but I like putting on a strong persona to my peers. In public, you want to show people who you want to be, and not who you really are. I guess, I always see myself as the one giving 200% to everything I do, but it turned out to stress my health and pushed me back to 0%. I was in need of a recharge, a time to finally rest. Health, for the first time, became priority over everything, including music which was my life. I'm a workaholic and my work shapes who I am, and also my value and existence as a person. For people to tell me to stop and do nothing, I just couldn't. It was too abnormal to my life style at the time, and as you can see it was also due to my ego.
In my first counselling session, I expressed my feelings of being a burden. My counselor in response said, 'Is it because you feel special?' Special? I thought. What do you mean? I'm simply wanting to help others, and doing my very best at it too. She continued, 'Couldn't someone else replace your position? Do they really need you to continue doing what they need to do?'. I hesitated, and thought about it for a while. The answer was clearly, 'yes'. However, my ego needed a few minutes to let it sink in. Yes, I wasn't special. Yes, someone can replace me. Yes, they don't actually need me. It sounds a bit sad, but it's the truth. I guess, in a way it also meant you come first now. Your health comes first, and not the need to satisfy your ego. It was like the curtains opened, the fog lifted, the light shone in, and I finally saw it. I have ego and it happens to everyone, even those who thought they were kind or good at heart. I knew it was time for a change.
At my second and last counselling session, I expressed to my counselor that I want to do quality gigs from now on, not quantity. The number of performances is another factor of ego, and I didn't like that controlling and stressing my health. I want to put 100% and more to every gig I do, even if it's only a few gigs in a whole year. In comparison to a few percentages here and there in numerous gigs occurring simultaneously. That way the performances are likely to be successful, and valued with effort and appreciation. It will also positively influence my musical journey. It avoids being upset at terrible outcomes, and as a result, it will decrease negative thoughts and stop disrespecting myself. The counselor looked at me for a while, and then smiled. She could see change, and praised me for it. Of course, my ego was happy to receive it. Praise is something we also live off. Mostly cause of parents and education, but that's a whole other topic.
Anyways, this has been a very long blog, but it was something I wanted to get off my chest. It's something I've thought about for quite a while. For so long I've judged other people's egos, and now I'm working on myself and seeing my own. Not entirely changed, but definitely starting it. It's refreshing and healthy. Health is my priority now, and is the foundation to my approach in practice, performance, music and life. If you aren't mentally or physically stable and well, then you should stop and sort yourself out first. To live is to love, and to love is to live. Your pure existence comes first, because without it there wouldn't be a 'you'. Ego is perception, but life is real. From time to time, stop and step back. Look at your life and reflect, because it could save you one day. It did to mine.
Laugh, Love, Live, and Reflect.
Here we are again! Another year of amazing gigs, experiences, musicians, audience, and I couldn't have done it without all of you, supportive people!!! Here are some photos below from some of this year's amazing gigs.
There's many more photos from this year at my Facebook page, and you can see video performances on my YouTube page. Or for some listening at my Soundcloud page. Now time to review this year's awesome moments!
Top 10 Performances of 2016
10. The Stairwell Project
The Stairwell Project - a fantastic project, community and family to be a part of. It is a project that began in 2015 at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in hope to liven up the stairwell's beautiful acoustics with music. Soon it expanded to the cafe, foyer, entrance and even the oncology outpatients area. A space for musicians to explore, express and contribute to a better world. The most fulfilling part of the project was seeing the impact of music on the audience of patients, visitors, doctors, nurses and other employees. How they interact with it. How it changes their mood. Makes their day. Also their support, encouragement and kind words towards us, musicians, always made my day too. It has impacted me, and I highly recommend you all to donate to this fabulous project! To donate, head over to their website where a recording of mine is also featured at Jugglers Art Space's The Stairwell Project page! This is all thanks to the mastermind behind it - Peter Breen. A beautiful, caring, motivating, inspiring, and talented man who cares for people and art. There wouldn't be anyone better than himself to be leading such a wonderful project, and I can't wait to see the more exciting things waiting to happen!
9. Queensland Philharmonia Orchestra Masterworks 1: Catch Me If You Can
Queensland Philharmonia Orchestra is an orchestra conducted, played and run by young and aspiring Queensland musicians. I have played for this orchestra in the past as a percussionist at the back of the orchestra, but this time I played in the front. It was a new experience, and very exciting indeed! I was a featured vibraphone soloist, alongside featured double bass player Sam Nock and the orchestra, accompanying Diana Tolmie (alto sax) in Escapades by John Williams. Wow! Diana Tolmie is such a beautiful, intelligent, and talented musician, and also businesswoman! Working with her was a dream come true, and my vibraphone, V, also had a debut with its motor! The score is beautiful and the right amount of jazz and classical - my kind of music. I actually wouldn't have gotten this gig, if it weren't for my friend, Brent Miller. I was actually a replacement player, and had to learn all the music in three weeks! Three weeks!!! That was just the start of the many gigs I had to learn this year within three weeks or less. It surely got my sight reading skills up!
8. Music and Dance with Queensland Ballet
Wow, wow, wow. This gig was another dream come true. Star-studded by the Queensland Ballet and international conductor, Andrew Mogrelia. I've performed with the Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra a few times since first year of uni, but this one would top it. I've never felt so excited, nervous, and so honoured for an orchestral gig. I was principal percussion, and to play in the pit for a ballet was just a dream come true (not to mention the other times for musicals and operas!). We then played on stage, and man, oh man, I had such a good time playing the Firebird Suite! Yes!!! An adrenaline rush with all the right reasons - I love that feeling. This is just one of the many, many reasons Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University is a fantastic tertiary institution to attend and follow your passion in music. It offers you amazing opportunities, and to say I performed with the Queensland Ballet conducted by Andrew Mogrelia still blows my mind.
7. Paint It Red presents 'Skins': Anna Kho and the String Kho-tet
So this is one of the many gigs that began as a dream to perform a repertoire for my university recital, and then became a bigger dream to be performed public. That score was Ney Rosauro's Marimba Concerto No. 1. I had been dreaming about this concerto for years, long before I even attended university! Finally I played three of the movements for my third year recital. As I was once blessed again, I was given an oppportunity to perform all four movements at Paint It Red, accompanied by the String Kho-tet featuring Amanda Terry, Allyson Pong Ying, Kieran Welch, Georgie Ostenfeld and Sophie Collis. Paint It Red is a concert series featured at Juggler's Art Space to showcase artists and chamber musicians within Brisbane. It has become highly successful and this year featured special guests artists, the heroes and inspirations of our town. I was so lucky to be billed with special guests Steve Newcomb and Kristin Berardi, alongside SoundStruck and Cigany Weaver. As well as art by Sarah Sculley. This, of course, was not possible without curators, Luke Carbon and Molly Collier-O'Boyle. Young musicians making a difference, which is just the beginning of the long list of young, amazing, Brisbane musicians. Go Brisbane!
6. Australian Percussion Gathering: Duet with Brodie Mcallister
Continuing on the amazing, young, Brisbane musicians list is Brodie Mcallister. This man blows me away, and constantly teaches, inspires and shares his knowledge, love and passion for music. I've learnt so much from him, and it's only the beginning! We started improvising together this year to explore the extended techniques, sounds and blends between brass and percussion instruments (currently exploring other instruments like accordion too). After a while of playing, we had a first debut performance at Australian Percussion Gathering. We played in a pop-up lunch time performance in the Conservatorium Foyer, exploring the acoustics by setting up at the balcony above it. I loved the idea of playing instruments live that an audience couldn't see, and also the free lively space of free improvisation! Anything can happen! It was certainly a new feeling, and I loved it. Of course, I can't go on without mentioning Australian Percussion Gathering itself! It was certainly a fufilling, inpsiring and hardworking experience of acting as volunteer co-ordinator and participant in a week long event of percussion galore! Percussionists from all around Australia attended, and we were honoured to be joined by international percussionists, Kuniko Kato (Japan/USA), Aiyun Huang (Taiwan/Canada), Michael Askill (Australia), and Jean-Baptiste LeClère (France/Paris Opera Orchestra). This is a special event that happens every few years and is aristically directed by the one and only, Vanessa Tomlinson. She's the inspiration that led me to free improvisation in the first place!
5. New World Theatre debut with Songs For A New World
I wouldn't believe you if you told me I would be doing musicals in my first year of university, and then telling me I would be offered many more after that. It was a dream come true at first, but it didn't turn out to be a one-off gig at all! Through the four years of musicals I've played, which 2016 included Savoyard's Legally Blonde and Nice Work If You Can Get it and Redcliffe Musical Theatre's Wicked, I met many more amazing people and one of them was Andrew Wadley. Funny story, I actually e-mailed Andrew in late 2014 to express my interest in playing percussion for Prima's musical production of Legally Blonde performed in 2015. I didn't know who he was, and I had never played for the company or at Redcliffe Cultural Centre before. The first time I met him, and the many more times after that, we clicked and it was always a joy and honour to play for and with him. I am so happy for him and his music endeavours, as one of his dreams came true to start his own musical company - New World Theatre, alongside Melanie Evans. The company successfully debut with Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World at Act 1 Theatre with an absolutely amazing cast of Lara Boyle, Liam J. O'Byrne, Natalie Ridoutt, and Simon Chamberlain, a gorgeous band and a fantastic crew as well. I've never had such an amazing musical theatre experience from start to end, and dare I say this one tops them all? It was a small family with enormous love, more than the venue could handle! Thanks for everything, Andy x
4. Ba Da Boom with Early Warning System and Lisa Moore
Ba Da Boom Percussion Ensemble was the new percussion family I joined after I left Macgregor State High School's percussion family. It was different, but for the better. New genres, new repertoire, new people, new director, and new found love and experiences. For four years it became a whole new world to explore, and changed my whole look on music, performance and chamber work. Sadly, this was my last year in it. One thing that didn't change was my love for percussion chamber music - it just gets better and better! I love it so much! So I know there's two gigs in this one, but it happened one after the other and felt like one experience, so it's the exception! This year I had the honour of playing with Early Warning System featuring Meta Weiss and also as featured performers with Jamee Seeto, Caleb Colledge and Tracie Comber in a Clocked Out concert with special guest, Lisa Moore. I had one of the biggest honours to be playing with illustrious musicians, Meta Weiss and Early Warning System, for the world premiere of Ivan Trevino's The Bird That's Flown Into My Room. I had been a big fan of Ivan Trevino's music, and his works featuring percussion and cello. It was absolutely perfect, and such an honour to be playing with percussion teachers I always look up to. I was definitely nervous! The other gig was accompanying Lisa Moore in the piano concerto, A Wolfe in the Mangroves by Erik Griwold. One of my all time favourite pieces, and I was so excited to be playing this gig. The feeling was like a kid before Christmas day. It felt amazing, and below is the result. Beautifully shot by Greg Harm!!!
3. New Composers, New Compositions: Composition Premiere of 'Small Fish Dreaming' and 'Sokli: Three Sound Events' by Jasmin Leung
I have met, watched, listened and worked with many composers, and Jasmin Leung is by far a very unique, quirky, sweet, intelligent, artistic and talented one I defiinitely recommend to check out! Her mind is full of amazing ideas waiting to blossom into art. I honestly can't wait to see more of her work, and the many more amazing things she will create, form and publish. Working with her was one of the best composer and performer experiences I went through, as she gave me a whole new platform of free expression. My expression. Not a lot of composers do that for you!!! I was also given a snare solo to explore, and I was instructed to not practice it either. It was such a new experience, and perhaps even a life changing one too. I was so emersed in it, and it made me view snare drum differently. I love it. It was also the first time I had performed with informally trained musicians. It had a different atmosphere, but it was just perfect. It was very 'Jasmin Leung', if anything. Just listen below, and definitely check out her other creative outputs!
2. Anna Kho-tet
I think one of the many joys a musician can have is to express themselves. I mean isn't that why we all do music? A lot of musicians play for others, but it's another thing to play with others. This year I have been so lucky to get the exactly right musicians I wanted, the music I wanted and the venues I wanted. It was a whole new chapter to Anna Kho-tet, and just the beginning of many more amazing things to come. Again, I arranged music together and featured double mallet keyboard too. All of this happening at the Brisbane Jazz Club. The Brisbane jazz venue that I have been dreaming about to perform at, and it came true! To make it even better, I had the best audience that were so supportive, sweet and just the best for that Sunday night. Also I sang, which felt awesome. Here's a video below.
I could never forget the Green Jam gig earlier this year as well. That felt amazing. I had never played jazz like that before, and I enjoyed it very much. There's just too many awesome gigs to put in the top 10! Do keep an eye out for future Anna Kho-tet gigs, as there will be more next year with a whole new direction - again. I'm excited just thinking about it!
1. Graduating Honours Recital: Caged Wings
I thought putting the videos first would allow you to experience the moments with me after reading paragraphs of 'moments' throughout this blog. I don't know what else to say with this 'moment', or perhaps too much to fit in this already, very long blog! It was the moment I had been waiting for and it happened. It was the first time I felt like a curator, a composer, an artist - everything far from what I originally knew what being a musician meant. I think there is no higher achievement in music than being in a zone of infinite possibilities, a world of unlimited imagination, an expression that just pours from the heart and not just the mind. The act, feeling and being of performance is one of the most rewarding treasures you can receive as an artist, and it's the reason we continue to do what we do. Artistic satisfaction is what I believe it's called, but it's so much more than just two words. This year has taught so much and allowed me to become a better musician and person, and the growing will no doubt continue in 2017.
Happy New Year!
Laugh, Love, Live 2016, and for the new year, 2017!
I'm starting to find myself learning off my students and the many things they teach me without knowing. I guess that's the ironic thing about being a teacher. We teach to share knowledge and, of course, the income, and in return we gain so much more with happiness, knowledge, and having the absolute honour of watching positive change in our students. It's perhaps one of the best and fulfilling jobs you could ever choose to do.
In addition, the other teachers and parents have been absolute inspiration to all of my students' journeys. I would also like to emphasise how understanding and nice the parents are, and they treat me so nicely - thank you! However, the work is down to the student and they should take all the credit for how far they've come. All of these things make me love teaching, and I'm sure a lot of teachers out there agree with me too.
How adorable is this gift from one of my favourite students!!! She is perhaps the first student I had that started percussion from the very beginning, and she is doing incredibly well! I am so proud of her! She recently received a distinction for her Trinity exam, and is soaring within her school percussion program. A lot of the other students are also doing so well, and receiving awards and compliments for their hard work. I'm loving every bit, and I can't help but thank all the teachers who have shaped the person, musician and teacher that I am today.
Yesterday night, I attended my graduation and received my second degree of Bachelor of Music with Honours. It was the end of a chapter, and a start of another - hopefully, starting a degree in Graduate Diploma in Education next year! I couldn't believe how far I've come, and I owe it all to the music teachers that have taught me. They're more than just teachers to me. They're mentors, parents, colleagues, friends and some of the most supportive people in my life through my darkest and brightest times. In every music teacher out there is a world of knowledge passed down from their many, many passionate, caring and loving music teachers. It's pretty much a circle of life! Teachers teach us how to be the better version of ourselves to give back to the world, and that's by being teachers too. Being a teacher doesn't have to be official, because a simple advice or mentoring is education in itself. Every little guidance makes the biggest change in another person's life.
So the next time you come across a musician busking, or playing background music at a venue, or even music on stage, in a pit, on television, radio, electronic devices, or even just hearing music from a distance, just know that behind the maker of that amazing sound you're hearing is inspiration, passion and love passed down from amazing music teachers. If there were no music teachers, then there wouldn't be the beautiful life of music that surrounds and accompanies our everyday life. Definitely be grateful for your teachers, as they shape the next generation and create a brighter future for all those aspiring students waiting to dream big - someone like myself, or even you.
Laugh, Love, Live for Music Teachers
Throughout my musical career this has got to be one of the most fulfilling, heart warming and exciting projects I've done. The Stairwell Project has been a highly successful weekly live music and visual art experiment installation in the foyer, cafe and cancer wards of the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital since the last half of 2015. It has been a growing project since then and expanded to mornings of Monday and Wednesday filled with various musicians and artists. The project is artistically directed by Peter Breen, who is also the founder of the Juggler's Art Space and a massive supporter of local art and music. Many Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University alumni and current students have gathered to perform at the hospital, and in addition various local artists have taken part in creating a colourful venue visually and aurally.
I was welcomed into the Stairwell family this year, and I've been playing music at the hospital for six months now. It's been a very interesting experience, as the 'stage' is not your everyday performance stage. The audience is also a whole different interaction as well. I've played in the admission area, cafe, stairwell, as well as the oncology area. All different areas of unique acoustics, ambience and audience in one building! Each area filled with different experiences and memories of people I've met. The people - they are what's so motivating throughout this project. Their interest and love in my music gives me so much joy, and their compliments are uplifting whilst I'm providing uplifting music for their day. Throughout my time there, I've recorded sessions for my personal practice and research. I improvise a lot, and it's been absolutely fulfilling. It's also turned out quite lovely to listen to so I decided to upload them. Have a listen below:
The way the music weaves in between the sounds of the hospital is one of the most fascinating and exciting discoveries! In a way these recordings have become soothing music for me to lighten up my own day or to create a peaceful atmosphere to calm my mind and body - a somewhat healing experience. One of the experiences I've loved the most at the hospital are the employees, patients and various audience members who come up to my instrument and tell me about their love and interest for the vibraphone. It makes me so happy to see them excited about my passion, and even watching them play too! Here's a picture below of a RBWH employee rocking out four mallets!
There was one experience at The Stairwell Project that made me want to post this blog. Today an old man started having a lost of breath near my spot in the cafe. A lot of helpers came by and assisted him, I immediately noticed and changed my flow of music. A RBWH employee among the helpers came up and complimented on the music afterwards as the old man was escorted elsewhere. Later on a little girl came up to the vibraphone while I was playing in the cafe. Her curious, sparkling eyes were intrigued by my resonating, percussive sounds. She stood there watching as her grandmother sat not far behind. I asked her if she wanted to have a play, and she accepted immediately. We played together for about ten minutes or so, and she absolutely loved it. She was at the hospital as her Mum was in an appointment. As I drove away from the hospital that day, it hit me that my music would be connected to people's memory of the hospital whether its in pain or happiness, entertainment or discovery. One thing this project has taught me is how powerful music and art can be. As musicians, we may not save lives or cure diseases, but we definitely change them by accompanying their everyday lives with music when they need it most. It's these little things that make me love what I do, and the people have been the biggest impact to my musical journey - my gratitude goes out to all the encouraging words from the smiling strangers! x
You can find out more about The Stairwell Project on their Facebook page - go like them and support this beautiful project!
Laugh, Love, Live Music of The Stairwell Project at RWBH!
I've always loved watching the musical performances held in Brisbane, which inspired me to begin my musical journey. Ever since I started at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, I've been privileged to play more gigs as well as being introduced to the numerous venues of amazing performances by illustrious musicians! Recently, I was given another awesome opportunity to perform at Queensland Performing Art Centre's Green Jam with Anna Kho-tet again, featuring Sophie Min (piano), Matty Cook (bass), Lachlan Hawkins (kit) and myself (vibraphone)! Here are some photos below from that memorable evening!
This was perhaps one of the most thrilling performances I've done so far, which I stepped off the stage smiling as loud as the music that we just played. Beautiful audience members came up afterwards and expressed their gratitude and passion for the music, and in addition a university journalist major even asked to write an article about the band and the Brisbane music scene too! All of these small things that happen in the Brisbane music scene is what keeps this community and culture growing! It makes me appreciate my music making, and feel inspired to work hard and share more! One day I felt inspired to arrange Greensleeves, which you can hear in the video below! Also, how incredibly awesome is the band too - love their music and company! x
There are also other Green Jam recordings on YouTube, which you can check out as well as many more Anna Kho-tet performances to be uploaded soon too! Earlier this year a weekend long concert event called QSOCurrent was held this year featuring various ensembles including Kupka's Piano, Rafael Karlen and Steve Newcomb, Tom Thum, Argo, Sampology, and members of Queensland Symphony Orchestra. As a lucky winner, I won tickets to watch all the concerts. I was also invited by Argo to participate in their performance at Brisbane Powerhouse as a free event between the concerts featuring Tom Thum and Sampology. On top of that there were so many amazing performances during the same time, such as Nicole Lizee and Australian Art Orchesta, Conservatorium Wind Orchestra and Nonsemble. I drove home smiling and feeling inspired by the amount of amazingly talented Brisbane musicians and gorgeous venues, and how lucky I am to be exposed to a wonderful, magical world of art! Also did I forget to mention the gorgeous artwork displayed at Brisbane Powerhouse, as you can see in the photo below of my set up for Argo's MACRO performance.
These are just the few performances and music venues that exist in Brisbane alone, and I could go on and on about this topic. However, I'll leave that to you to explore and begin your exciting journey to immerse in the musical culture and art of Brisbane. As a general view in Australia, Brisbane doesn't seem to have as much as Sydney or Melbourne. However, I am an incredibly proud Brisbane born musician to tell you that Brisbane's music scene is growing and becoming a gorgeous home to many talented artists! I've fallen in love with Brisbane's music scene, and it wouldn't be what it is today without all the beautiful people that shape this community with their passionate voices and expression!
Laugh, Love, Live the Brisbane Music Scene!
It's been a year since I launched this website, as well as my facebook business page at Anna Kho Music! I cannot believe a year has passed. It seemed like yesterday I was putting together this website, getting photos done, and officially clicking 'publish'. I can't explain my gratitude for the amount of generosity and love from all my supporters - fans, friends, family, colleagues and fellow musicians! It was a massive dream to put this together, and a big decision to put myself out there with my music and passion!
There were so many exciting projects in this annual period! Super excited for my emerging ensembles V&V (Vocal and Vibraphone) and Anna Kho-tet, as well as the honour to perform with my String Kho-tet at Paint It Red! Definitely look out for future gigs, as I've got some exciting news I can't wait to announce to you all later this year!
I've also started to focus on some solo vibraphone work at the The Stairwell Project, founded and directed by Peter Breen. It features musicians at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital to bring calming, uplifting and entertaining music to the patients, visitors, employees and venue! You can still donate to their pozible campaign to keep this amazing event going! Head to my soundcloud to hear some solo vibraphone music! On top of that I've also experimented with solo vocal and vibraphone works, as I do love singing! I've gotten quite a beautiful response from fellow musicians, so I do hope to keep that going! Go to my facebook page to see a little video of myself singing with vibraphone! Do feel free to suggest songs to me too!
Another special project, or more like program, I've started earlier this year is the Anna Kho Music Room! I've done private tutoring as well as teaching at a school music program, and I thought why not start my own? I have a lovely piano at home that needs more love, and I wish to share it and my other gorgeous percussion instruments with aspiring musicians. I do hope to continue playing more piano this year, and hopefully build this potential program into a fun, educational environment for my growing students! Also why not pop by to admire the wall art too, as seen in the photo below.
Another project I hope to do this year or in the future is composing! I used to love composing as a child, but I never got around to finishing any scores or finalising any works either! Now with all my new experience, as well as in jazz and classical, I honestly can't wait to get started. However, there so much music to play that I get distracted quite easily! Hopefully it'll cross paths and new works will come out sooner or later!
However, the biggest project yet this year has got to be my Bachelor of Music with Honours degree! A big paper to write, and I can't wait to get started and discover the beauty of the most intriguing topic, which I've wanted to find the answers to all my life! Will keep you updated, as this journey will be a roller coaster of information! Also make sure to look out for my recital date in November, as it's going to be a killer program!
Thank you again for all your support!!! This website and the facebook page has been such an amazing means of communication with you all! Honestly, it shows me how much people care about my musical journey and my work too. It gives me so much confidence and motivation to keep going with my passion. It most definitely helps to know that what I do is doing something for you all, and I would want nothing more than this world to be a happier place and lives to be easier to live. Music is indescribable, but it puts a smile on my face and I can see it does for you all too!
Laugh, Love, Live Music and Happy First Anna-versary!