Music/Jazz/Opinion/Comments/Business Greg Henry Waters Newsletter
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Objective: This newsletter came out of my experiences dealing in a new culture and a new history. The purpose of the newsletter is to provoke serious thought about musical art. What is it? Where should it be going? In addition, what is going on in China? I write about my personal experiences and my thoughts about them. Please send me e-mail to be removed from this list.
Well it has been an interesting two weeks learning more about Shenzhen and China. To all my western friends who live in China an are confused about how to react with the locals you must read a book called. My Country and My People by Futang and you can get the book at Book City and it is in English. It certainly has calmed me down about how to live here. The only problem is that I see very little future for me here in this living environment.
I am sorry to say you will understand more about China when you finish this book, but you will know there is not much you can do to communicate better here and get an understanding of how to live here. Since, I am in the arts and the western arts it is very difficult for me here because there is no audience for me and or no venue for me to perform in. With the local laws and high fees for public performance (local booking agent fee and federal government fees in Beijing) going to the government the local businessman does not want to spend the money. Plus the hotels just use cheap costing Pilipino Bands so they can pay the government fees. My point is how is Shenzhen going to move forward in a cultural way with all these fees placed on the business man and artists? It will never happen it is just a lot of talk.
I went to 5 events over this last week-end and I would like to talk about them some. The first event was a concert put on by the local musicianís organization with the Shenzhen Symphony. Any way it was a contest of local composers to get their music performed at a local event here in Shenzhen in October. To make a long story short there were 8 pieces performed and I enjoyed about three or four and the style was very late 1800 century music and the first 10 years of the 20th century. I was really surprised that the composers did not have more of a Chinese flavor and it was mostly Russian or Eastern European Music. My friend told me one day that China or Shenzhen is about 100 years behind the west in theory and thought well to me this sure proves it. Because the artist is the reflection of the society in many ways. An artist has the ability to raise above the society he usually become victims of it in one form or other except maybe for the real great and pure artist.
Anyway, the next day I was invited to speak at the local composers organizations meeting which I did. You know, I was the only one to talk about the music and not about politics. Anyway, this changed the direction of the entire meeting and they started to talk and reflect about the music and what it should be. I think I was very helpful to them in opening up their eyes in how far behind the times they are and even maybe that they should edit all the pieces and make them better. Anyway it seemed everybody responded to me in a positive way. All the professors started to talk about music rather than politics so my friend told me. I am asking myself what good does all this do me or my family. I am still not receiving any money for all this effort on my part. I also talked about the relationship between the composer, the conductor and the performing musicians. They seem to be a real lack of communication between all these people for the performance was very mechanical and did not seem to have much soul or warmth in the music. I thought the first violins were in a trance or were half a sleep. Anyway just an opinion about what I saw. Sometimes people say my music makes them sleep, but I say I want my music to relax you and calm you down from the hysterical world, so there.
So here we go again, the next day a newspaper reporter who was at the meeting decided he wanted to interview me. He was from the Shenzhen TV Newspaper. So my friend said it was really important, so here I go again; someone using my knowledge and experience and me not getting paid for it. Since I really had nothing else to do I went and gave my opinion about culture in Shenzhen.
My points were these: there is no multi-cultural activities in Shenzhen it is just the Pilipino Bands and the Symphony. 2. The booking agent situation makes it impossible for local business people to hire real professionals and pay them. 3. The pop rock culture is so strong and active here the people have no ability to listen to other forms of music.
4. The audiences are completely entertainment aware and to sit and listen to music is almost impossible for them. 5. The disco rock loud music mentality is everywhere. One cannot get away from it. 6. There is not a big enough western culture here to support the western arts. Shenzhen does not offer the Westerner a real place to live where they will be at home. They will go to HK or other major city not Shenzhen. 7. The Western People I have met here in Shenzhen do not have any real music culture. They only like rock and maybe ethnic folk music from their country.
8. The manners here are so anti-music because they local people do not know how to sit and listen to music they have an attention span of about 10 to 15 minutes and then they lose it. This happened to me several times when they get tired of listening they just start talking like you are not there anymore. This is at a pub or restaurant or dinner affair. I am not talking about a concert in a concert hall. Anyway the peer pressure mentality is very strong in China to the point that everyone is afraid to speak out what they really think.
9. To perform real music one needs a special place with special people to listen to it.
10. I heard the FCC in HK that they were complaining that the Chinese Government is taking away their freedom of the press. Well, the musicians they hire to work in their club have to play a lot of entertainment music now with singers and guitars. I say why cannot the serious musician have freedom to perform their music. Why are the musicians always forced to play over played music and music just for the stupid mentality of the public. The world would be a much better place if people would take music as music and not entertainment. Entertainment is killing music if it has not already done so. Newspaper people really think they are something else in many cases because they have the power to reach the public and change-their minds. But for me newspaper people have all the prejudices and anti-society beliefs as others do.
Anyway, I am sick of talking about the ills of society and its sicknesses.
Hello Jeff: To: Jeff asked me a question what are my plans?
This is my answer!
Well, this last year just has been a learning experience dealing with government, organizations and private business. All seem to create more problems than solving problems. Shenzhen is a city that is so new they have no culture or cultural organizations with a long history or professional groups that support the arts other than the symphony and they give very few concerts.
My friends Mark, Catherine, David and Ellie are working on a plan for me to market my music. I guess it comes down to sponsorship of one kind or another. The community here wants the westerners to invest in them but they seem to have no money the other way; so it seems. The small businessman only knows exploitation they do not believe in an honest wage or honest commitment to their word from all my experiences here. They constantly change their mind and are always throwing me off guard. I am still looking for some real business people who know what a professional night club is for professional people. All the night clubs here are teenage minded places, discos, bars, girl bars, coffee houses nothing really for the professional person.
Catherine Cheng is planning on contacting local business from her community for support. She is drawing up some kind of plan.
HK is the closes thing to western culture here. I suggest you get your kids multi-entry-exit visas for that purpose. I hope you can get your kids interested in learning Mandarin so they can have local friends. When my daughter was here this was her problem the language.
My friend David wants an opera club. I just want a place to perform and maybe a cds distribution setup. I am to have a composition performed with the local symphony in October, but Iíll believe it when I see it. Money is never mentioned. So I am a little confused on how to move forward here but many people give me a lot of support an interest. Even the musicians in HK are hoping I get somewhere here. The local wages here are so low too and they have no sense of quality it is only about profit and exploitation but I am sure you know this. All art projects in New York are sponsored by local, federal, state governments, businesses and corporations.
The USA government has no cultural program for China which is just so wrong it is hard to believe. This has to be changed the USA government must get more involved in China in public relations. As you know China is a friendship relationship country not a corporate frame work for the most part.
This is not the city for culture, but I have a pleasant life here in many ways. The Mayor of the city wants it to change but he is confused as I am. My friend said the mayor has a Ďtoní of money but will not use it for culture. I heard this from several people. So what to do is stay in my apartment and work on my music.
The American Chamber of Commerce should be doing something for culture and I have talked to them and I have talked to the American Embassy but nothing developed. All the Embassy did was creating a file on me like an FBI file. Ha - I say what about the music?
It is hard for people to see beyond profit and into the non-profit world of art.
Maybe the new American Chamber center for business setup by the Shenzhen Government can be a focal point for Americanís contribution to culture in China.
Maybe we can setup a general music class for a group of western students to learn about western music and culture.
It is open territory we are doing the planting because there is no history here especially in Shenzhen for western culture.
So if any of you have plans or advertising campaign to develop more of an HK life style here lets do it. But remember I am just a composer not a businessman. But sometimes I think I know more than the businessman but I do not have the time or the power to be a businessman.
All the best to you in your efforts to create a world community like (President of the Am-Chamber of Commerce) Harley said in his talk last night, I think if the world community got a hold of OPEC and stopped them from controlling oil prices the world would be a better place. Oil is a world product not just for the few. But I am just trying to be a musician, should really not get into this, but I know the oil money is going to people who just put it in a bank and do not use it for the development of society. True and honest art is about the good of society not about personal gain. But a businessman could never think this from what I see except if they have too much money like Bill Gates he maybe sensitive enough to feel guilty about his wealth.
Greg Henry Waters
E-Mail Reply from Jessica:
You know, every time at reading such kind of essays as the following written by you. I feel upset and depressed for you. maybe every reader has the same feeling as well as me, sensing your isolation and disappointment, your desperation of struggling against the cool reality which is hard to be changed by you alone. You are too lonely in the city!!!
You have explored all the fact of this material city in which every resident is under the stress of pursing more money and higher position. As to the appreciation to real music, nobody has mood and attitude, or you can say, no quality to understand music, not amusement. I can't say nothing more as your wonderful writing has already finished the matter--no real music and no real musician. no audience here.
Waters. I sometimes can't thoroughly understand your music while I listen to it. but I am truly beside you!!
Building a relationship with one person means I have won something.
GREG HENRY WATERS
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