VOLUME 3, No.2 JOURNAL April 2002
    Main Menu
選  項
Year 2000
Year 2001
Year 2002
Year 2003
A Spring Gathering at the Scholar's Garden

Date: 22 April 2002
Time: 1:00-5:00PM
Place: New York Scholar's Garden, Staten Island
Attending: Chang Peiyou, Stephen Dydo, Matthew Flannery, John Thompson, Marilyn Wong, Yip Mingmei, Jung-ping Yuan
Guests: Frank Soong, Judith Whitbeck (curator of the garden), Eva Wen, Xin Ke-Quan (seal carver, Huangshan, Anhui) and his granddaughter Xin Shilong, Ellen Zweig (film maker)
Minutes: Matthew, with thanks to Marilyn & Peiyou

Front row (from left to right): Judith Whitbeck. Mingmei Yip. Ellen Zweig. Marilyn Wong-Gleysteen. Peiyou Chang. Eva Wen.
Middle row (from left to right): Stephen Dydo. Xin-Ke-Quan. Jung-Ping Yuan. Matthew Flannery.
Top row (from left to right): John Thompson. Frank Soong.
The Meeting:
The spring meeting took place in the New York Scholar's Garden in Snug Harbor on the north shore of Staten Island. Snug Harbor is a former retired sailor's home now converted to a cultural center that is home to a patchwork of often unusual projects and programs. We met in one of the garden's two meeting rooms. With members slow to arrive as they wound their way to the garden through the back streets of north Staten Island, the first arrives improvised a playing table, then wandered over to the garden's main pavilion, which hosted an excellent display of scholars' rocks. The rocks were from the former collection of Hu Kaozang, one of the most important collectors of scholars' rocks in recent times. Hu died in 1996, depositing parts of his collection in, for example, the Guqi Garden in Shanghai. The balance of the stones now belong to his daughter, Hu Kemin; it is from these that the current show was selected. Some specimens were of particularly high quality, and the exhibit included representatives of a wide variety of stone types, including some of unusual conformation as well as samples of the widening taste in stones characteristic of the last century.

We adjourned to the Shug Harbor cafe in one of five "cottages" that once housed the Harbor's staff. Over and assortment of drinks and food, including a pot of fine tea brewed by Judith in a prize teapot, the members discussed several topics. Stephen, announcing that membership dues for 2002 were now payable, managed to collect some. He also proposed new society offices that, informally already functioning, be made official. The first was the office of Corresponding Secretary. While Stephen had been performing this duty, he was becoming burdened with also being both Treasurer and (informally) Webmaster. Therefore, it was agreed by acclamation, Marilyn was made Corresponding Secretary and Stephen, Webmaster.

Judy invited the Society to meet at the Scholar's Garden as often as they liked. She proposed that members consider opening the performance parts of their meetings to the public. She also said that the Garden's main pavilion could be used for displaying qins. It was agreed that this generous proposal will be discussed at the future meeting.

John performing 'Yi Guan Shan' ('Remembering Home')
As more members joined the meeting, we left the cafe and returned to the Garden. After jury-rigging the available funiture to provide a qin table and chair at appropriate heights, several members played. John performed "Yi Guan Shan" ("Remembering Home") in a 1549 version, one of at least 50 different extant versions. The title, although referring originally to a gate in the Great Wall, came to Interpret the gate as a means of returning home from the non-Chinese lands beyond. The piece is a reference to Ban Jie-yu (first century BCE), a consort of the Han Emperor Cheng (r. 32-7 BCE). Losing favor with him and slandered by rivals, she retired, wrote sad poetry. The most famous poem attributed to her, "Song of Regret," is, however, of uncertain date and authorship. She compares herself to a fan, popular in summer, discarded in fall:

To begin, I shaped fine silk from Chi
pure and white, like frost or snow
and fashioned a fan of double joy
its rounded form a pale moon.
Slid in and out of my lord's robes
raised up, it gently stirred a breeze for him.
But autumn came --- my endless dread.
As cold winds chilled the heart of heat
the fan retired, was stored away:
just halfway home, its luck and love have gone.

The "double joy" in line three refers to the two sides of the fan, usually covered with calligraphy and painting --- and to author and emperor. John concluded his talk by playing a second work, "Han Gong Qiu" ("The Han Palace in Autumn").

Marilyn playing and singing 'Yang Guan San Die' (Parting at Yang Pass: Three Versions'). while Jung-Ping accompanied her on the xiao.
Marilyn played and sang "Yang Guan San Die" (Parting at Yang Pass: Three Versions"), a classic that dates to the Tang. The "three refrains" refers to a seven character quatrain by Wang Wei that forms the basis for the lyrics. Each verse describes a different aspect of the parting of dear friends, who share wine before traveling through the Yang Pass, gateway to more western regions. The first verse describes the distance and pain of such a journey; the second, the hurt of parting; the third, the long stretches of time that each must endure before receiving news or a letter. Wang Wei's quartrain (a jue ju titled "Seeing off Yuan Ershi to Anxi"), brief, mentioned only the spring rain and green willows that would be missed along with his friends. In the later Qing, his verse was embellished with lyrics of differing verse-length in a freer form that allowed for more explicit descriptions of emotion by analogy. The version that Marilyn learned from Jung-Ping includes a brief but excellent harmonic introduction composed by his master, Wu Zhaoji. Set in the minor mode, it sets the stage for the emotions to come and creates a symmetrical balance with the harmonics of the coda.

Then Marilyn repeated "Yang Guan San Die" singing the lyrics and with Jung-Ping accompanying the melody with the flute (xiao). Aside from a quick run-through the day before, this was the first time that the two had performed this piece as a duo.

Peiyou discussed a Ming qin notebook of 1588 compiled by Yan Biaozhen that was reproduced from a copy in the National Library of Taiwan. She also handed out a few pages from Van Gulick's Lore of the Chinese Lute in which he mentions Yang Biaozhen (p.185; see also pp. 71, 76). She performed "Tiao Xian Ru Nong," a short tuning pieces. Peiyou played the beginning of the piece as far as she had mastered it, and then John picked through the entire work unrehearsed to give a rough idea of its sound. She and John discuss the piece, which is found in the qin manual Xing Kan Zheng Wen Due Yin Jei Yiao Qing Pu Zhen Chuan. Lastly, Peiyou performed "Ou Lu Wang Ji" ("Seagulls without Guile"), a work discussed in more detail in the Journal of September 2001.

Mingmei concluded the meeting by playing "Mei Hua San Nong"('Three Variations on the Tune "Plum Blossoms"') from the Chun Cao Tang Qing Pu (Spring Brass Hall Qin Manual), while Jung-Ping performed "Ping Sha Luo Yan" ("Wild Geese Descend to Sandy Shores") from the Qu Yin Zheng Cong Qin Pu (Orthodox Qin Manual) of 1634.

Mingmei concluded the meeting by playing 'Mei Hua San Nong'('Three Variations on the Tune "Plum Blossoms"')
"Ping Sha Luo Yan" ("Wild Geese Descend to Sandy Shores") performed by Jung-Ping Yuan.
NYQS members with curator of the Scholar's Garden. Judy Whitbeck.

Copyright © 2002 New York Qin Society. All rights reserved.