Formosa Quartet performed in New York and Washington DC these past few days. They will be performing in California, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Illinois in the months to come. Get introduced to all members of this quartet by reading what Wayne and Jasmine shared with us.
It is a real pleasure getting to know talented people like the members of Formosa Quartet. Funny and adventurous. Never tired or tiring. The contemporary music scene is alive and well because of the likes of The Formosa Quartet.
Who are the members of The Formosa Quartet? Their talents, strengths, and maybe funny shortcomings. JASMINE: Our members are Debbie, Cheyen, Wayne, and Jasmine. Strengths & shortcomings:
Debbie's strength: Tells it like it is. shortcoming: Doesn’t notice when I’ve had a haircut.
Cheyen's strength: Gives me a supportive look when I’m about to start the 3rd movement of 59 1. shortcoming: Thinks about Pamela Anderson while playing bouncy passages.
Wayne's strength: Understands why “From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee is an extraordinary poem. shortcoming: Underestimates how much salad to feed me.
Jasmine's strength: Improved this answer two hours ago. shortcoming: Forgets to bring her violin to concerts if eating a delicious sandwich.
Do you have a formula when selecting programs to highlight your technical skills as well as to match themes you are interested in sharing?
WAYNE: We care a lot about creative programming and we often try to highlight the many fabulous pieces that have been written for us. Recently, we’ve started devoting an entire half of a program to a Formosa Quartet Set, where we play a set of short pieces in wildly diverse styles — more like what you would see at a jazz concert than a classical one. Some of the pieces are written by us and are indeed inspired by jazz; others may be part of our exclusive collection of world, folk, or poetry arrangements.
How would you describe your audiences? What’s your take on how they respond to your programs?
JASMINE: We have wonderfully appreciative audiences. Responsiveness is a dialog; it’s the interaction between performer and listener that creates the energy and delivery of a performance.
What are your favorite ways of interacting with your patrons, followers, and supporters?
WAYNE: Through music, of course! But we also try to keep up with them via social media, email, and even the old-fashioned way, through handwritten letters. So many of our followers and supporters have become good friends, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you go about introducing new works that you find interesting but that might be new and even challenging to first time listeners?
JASMINE: We talk about the piece, giving musical examples so the audience can listen to them. But equally importantly, we, ourselves, have to be convinced, almost possessed, by the music. Just finding it theoretically interesting doesn’t generate enough heat to go around. Do you let your music reflect what goes on in our communities and the world at large or do you approach music solely as an artistic endeavor?
WAYNE: I think that what’s going on in the world does influence or creep into our programming, though it could be in subtle ways. For instance, in a time of deep political, societal, and global divisions, we are commissioning a piece that is inspired by pop music from diverse places such as Nigeria, Turkey, and Mexico. Your repertory includes many new works and commissions. What do all these commissions have in common or how do they differ?
JASMINE: Our commissions reflect our interest in indigenous cultures — including, but not limited to, that of Taiwan; and our interest in exploring adventurous mediums. Our newest commission is a set of pop song arrangements, which require us to pluck each other’s instruments while fingering our own. Viewer discretion advised. Over the course of years, how have you dealt with rejection or unsatisfactory reviews?
WAYNE: We can’t please everyone, but we are steadfast in our belief that we are doing something of value both for ourselves and for many people who listen to our music. What are the most impressive venues based on your performing experiences? JASMINE: Too many to name! We love Conrad Prebys at UCSD, Nichols Hall in Evanston, Wigmore Hall in London, EMPAC in Troy.
Do you have preferred pieces you perform often because they never get boring or old? WAYNE: One of the pieces we’ve performed the most is Dana Wilson’s Hungarian Folk Songs, which we commissioned about 10 years ago and is featured on our recent album From Hungary to Taiwan. It’s fun and zany and offers a lot of room for spontaneity. But we don’t get tired of Mozart or Beethoven either. #BeatTheBlues
JASMINE: The blue moments can be really hard, and it’s something we don’t always feel free to discuss openly. I think it’s important to accept it as an elemental and, up to a point, healthy part of being human. Go easy on yourself, and allow those close to you to give their support. Thank you and Good luck!