WQXR presents Beginner’s Ear, one hour of lunchtime bliss with guided meditation and a live performance by world-class musicians every Friday from January 17 through March 6. Each meditation will feature music from a different artist, to be announced.
Re-center your mind and spirit at the Lunar New Year with meditation and a mesmerizing program of improvised music. The stylistically polyglot vocalist Jen Shyu is joined by gamin, a master practitioner of piri, taepyongso and saenghwang, and Kaoru Watanabe on Japanese flutes and drums.
Join in a simple mindfulness practice to clear mental static. Then allow yourself to be transported by the soundscape — part jazz, part incantation — woven by Jen, gamin and Kaoru. A short conversation on the intersection of mindfulness and music will conclude the event.
Hosted and moderated by New York Times contributing critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim. Meditation led by Thomas Droge, founder of the Pathfinder Institute.
Beginner’s Ear was created by New York Times contributing critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim as a way to dissolve the mental static that so often gets in the way of a clear connection to a musical performance. Each 60-minute session begins with a mindfulness teacher leading participants in a 15-minute guided meditation. Out of the resulting deep stillness, a 30-minute musical performance emerges, unfolds in the space, and recedes back into the rich calm. The event wraps up with a short conversation, moderated by Corinna, about aspects of mindful listening.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim is a writer, music critic and the founder of Beginner’s Ear. Thomas Droge is an author, teacher, and Chinese medicine practitioner with deep roots in the Daoist tradition, as well as the meditation consultant for Beginner’s Ear.
Guggenheim Fellow, USA Fellow, Doris Duke Artist, multilingual vocalist-composer-multi-instrumentalist-dancer JEN SHYU is “one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music” (The Nation). Born in Peoria, Ilinois, to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrants and the first female and vocalist bandleader on Pi Recordings, she’s produced seven albums, performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is a Steinway Artist and Fulbright scholar speaking 10 languages. Her Song of Silver Geese was among NY Times’ “Best Albums of 2017.” www.jenshyu.com
gamin is a master practitioner of the piri, taepyongso (double reed instruments), and saenghwang (reed mouth organ). Currently, as a yisuja (designated master) of the Important Intangible Cultural Asset No.46 for piri court music and Daechita, she strives to both preserve and enhance traditional Korean music. At Seoul National University and as a member and assistant principal player of the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, Gamin has used her virtuosity to perform authentic jeongak (classical court music) and sinawi (shaman ritual music), as well as new compositions for her instruments. gamin-music.com
Composer and musician Kaoru Watanabe grounds his performance in traditional Japanese music while inhabiting a startling combination of musical worlds. He is renowned for his ability to collaborate with a diverse array of visionary international artists: Jason Moran, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble, Spanish flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena, visual artists Simone Leigh and Alyson Shotz, calligrapher Koji Kakinuma, Japanese National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, vocalists Alicia Hall Moran and Imani Uzuri, tap dancers Tamango and Kazunori Kumagai, Galician bagpiper Carlos Nuñez, So Percussion, Semba Kiyohiko, Reigakusha, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Adam Rudolph and Go:Organic Orchestra, the Aizuri and Parker String Quartets and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. In 2018, Watanabe debuted as an orchestral soloist and composer with the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House. He is an advisor, composer and featured musician on the Oscar-nominated score of Wes Anderson’s film Isle of Dogs and was a guest artist on the Silkroad Ensemble’s Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home.
Born to Japanese parents who were both members of the St. Louis Symphony, Watanabe started playing Wesern Classical music at an early age, then graduated from the Manhattan School of Music of music as a Jazz flute and saxophonist, followed by a decade in Japan performing with and eventually directing the internationally acclaimed Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble Kodo. Watanabe returned to New York City to continue to develop his ever evolving musical voice, specializing on transverse bamboo flutes such as the shinobue, noh kan and ryuteki and various Japanese percussion. Watanabe has performed his compositions at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, and Kabukiza and in all 47 prefectures in Japan. Watanabe continues to perform regularly across the North, Central and South Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. As a passionate educator, Watanabe has taught at such prestigious institutions as Princeton and Wesleyan University and the Tanglewood Music Festival.