Why I love opera

Every musical phrase starts with a breath. And with that breath, we paint the poetry of life’s joys and sorrows. Inevitably, some phrases reach a climax, a cadence. In that moment, just before the release, we hold our breath, in awe of how powerfully these words, these cries, these vibrations in the air, can pierce into the shell of our masked human-ness.

It strikes, it pierces, and then it evaporates. Comforting, enfolding, and surrounding us with warmth and strength of feeling as we exhale, foreshadowing and reminding us of the phrases within our very own existence.

How to be fearless

If I may venture to give advice, although I don’t believe I am qualified to as this is also something I’m in the process of working out fully, I think this may be one way to become fearless

It came to me whilst I was reading a 3-2-1 article by James Clear. Of satisfaction, he quoted author Ann Hastings on the availability of satisfaction:

“Satisfaction is always available. It is just not always looked for. If, when you enter any experience, you enter with curiosity, respect and interest you will emerge enriched and with awareness you have been enriched. Awareness of enrichment is what satisfaction is.” Ann Hastings.

It dawned upon me that fear should also be treated in the same way! If we can treat something we fear with curiosity, paint the task, person, or the event with respect, build interest and knowledge within that looming darkness, we twist the arm of that which we are afraid of. We become aware of this shadow in our lives via a different lens.

And this is perhaps how I’ll work on my procrastination and my fears.

Same Interview

This is not particularly radical but upon watching Billie Ellish’s Same Interview, I really do think it’s worthwhile for me to do the same. For my YouTube channel.

I’ve always been obsessed with having a record of my thoughts, my development, and my change throughout the years. At the more arrogant age of 20 or so, I thought I would be some famous person one day and someone would need these diary entries to write a biography about me.. ahahaha

But I think this is ultimately an amazing way for me to reflect on my life and provide a portrait of who I am, who I was, and who I’ve become.

On a slightly separate note, I’m still working out whether I make content for me or content for others. To sort this out would get to the crux of how I could stay inspired more consistently.

In any case, for my podcast, I think I might do the same for my friends who I interview.. a series of the same-ish questions I ask each time they come back on. Just to see how things are. I believe humans are intuitively hooked on observing change – thus sunsets, the sky, gardening, time lapses, and character development in entertainment intrigue us so much. I’m going to lean into that.

Chris Au in concert, 2025

I was brushing my teeth and daydreaming.

I dreamt I was performing at Koerner Hall. I had finished playing some Schubert Impromptus and had gone backstage for a quick breather. Upon coming out, the stage was set up with a guitar and a keyboard on top of a nice rug. The second half was going to be a concert of singing, jamming, playing my own songs, and vibing with the audience.

I loved that. I wish I were able to do that. And can I? I think the incredible Chris Thile is as close as it gets to someone who meshes artistically and sincerely many different genres of music to give a beautiful music experience. He’s got some bluegrass, some Bach, and somethings in between.

I want to do that. And do that I think I’ve gotta start expanding my repertoire, continue to focus, and work hard.

A concert of classical, indie acoustic songs, improv, songs from the 60s – 90s, a little bit of slow jazz.. is that too crazy to ask for?

How to hustle

This is my mind. Too many little projects. Muddled. I’ll never reach the sea nor the horizon this way.

I think I’ve found out what I lack.

I lack the hustle. I think I work quite hard at a lot of different things at once. I like working a little on ideas here and then working on another idea there. But I lack the hustle of focusing on one or two things INTENSELY.

I start some series and then drop it when I feel like it’s not going in the direction I’d like it to. Or I’ll watch a movie, and get distracted it and look up something on my phone. Or blog.

What’s one crazy thing I can do to make me hustle better?

Is it having a clear goal and banging the hammer on the nail of it every single day?

The entrepreneur and musician Derek Sivers has this amazing gift of being able to focus. Only WANTING to focus on one thing until it’s done. Sometimes that meant isolation.

I need to practice the art form and discipline of focusing on one thing for a long time. I need to enter into Deep Work. This is the only way I’ll succeed.

I need to be clear with my goals, clear with my daily intentions, and disciplined in my practice. If I dedicate one hour to something, that hour is dedicated to it.

I will not veer, I will not get distracted until that goal is done. If I get distracted, like meditation, I will return back to it.

Competitions done right

Me in Taipei for the Maestro Taiwan International Piano Competition having a great time

How do we make music competitions a positive and nurturing experience? How do we navigate through the competitive, win-lose, and often tortuous nature of these contests? On top of that, how can jury members, organisers, and the administration ensure that competitors will WANT to come back because they’re able to get so much value out of the competition?

That is the challenge I want to tackle. I’ve been asked by a really good friend to collaborate on a competition. My first thought was: how can we distinguish ourselves from all the other thousands of competitions? Prize money? Concert opportunities? Prestigious jury members?

Or shall we go down a route where we try to offer each and every qualifying competitor the best and most valuable lessons in music, art, and life? So that even if you do not attain the first couple of prizes, you don’t feel like you lost. You would feel like you have the tools to get better. I want the competitors to feel like they’ve gained something either in technique, career advice, musical and artistic experience, or even something as simple as encouragement from the competition.

This is so we can build a world where artists feel like they are a part of something larger. That they can incorporate art and the lessons learnt from honing a craft, into their own lives.

For me, this is a prize that I can offer everyone and it will be something invaluable that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Who wants to collab on an Indie album?

What would happen if four classical musicians and a producer worked on writing an album? What would happen if they were put in a large house with a recording studio and told to come up with 10 songs for an album?

I think it would be absolutely brilliant.

If you would like to do this with me, hit me up! The truth is that classical musicians are often so boxed in creatively – they’re either purely interpreting and madly learning repertoire, or they’re refining for a performance, recording, or a lesson. Perhaps they’re teaching and some of them composing too.

But what if they were told to write music in a style and genre of their own choosing, put some words together, add different effects, sounds, a groovy beat, and just make it up! I think it would free us and allow us to viewing the art of creation, compilation, and arrangement as also a part of being an artist.

It’s not that musicians and song writers such as Charlie Pluth or Ed Sheeran aren’t excellent artists in their own right. But we should realise if we are able to play some of the most technically difficult music ever written, and have studied music theory and harmony throughout our training, what they do isn’t exclusive to them. And we can do a pretty darn good job of it too.

Improv Day 4 – Chrysthaneum Terrace

Early in my musical life before I discovered the wonders of Chopin, Schumann and Beethoven, I was heavily influenced by a Taiwanese pop artist by the name of Jay Chou. In hindsight, it’s almost a little embarrassing to admit this, but he was integral in forming what I understood of melody and how to make a good tune. I have to admit, despite what I may think of his music now, he knew how to make a good melody – catchy, musical and with good feeling too. 

This is one of his songs, which I sang with one of my best friends Feng at a karaoke/hot pot restaurant during Chinese New Year. I also know that my parents love Jay Chou’s songs and this is a tribute to that too. I was going for a slight oriental feel in this piece. I hope it comes out okay!