I felt disconnected from everything happening around me after my hasty return from California to Taiwan. The schoolwork felt distant. The music life – lessons, chamber music, performances, and lectures all felt distant. Graduating and earning my bachelor’s degree while literally distanced felt surreal. Cities started lockdowns while countries closed borders; it was like the world had broken down and derailed from its path, falling into chaos. As I watched countless musical events and major music festivals being cancelled worldwide, I was concerned about Music Academy of the West. Hearing from past alumni about how the Academy is a unique experience, I was afraid that I would miss this opportunity forever (Yes, I agree that the epidemic made me pessimistic.)
When the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute (MARLI) was announced, I felt a sense of relief. I was delighted knowing that I would still gain something and have an opportunity to be engaged in music. However, I knew that the original festival in Santa Barbara is never replaceable and was eager to experience it in person. A few fellows quickly drafted a beautiful letter to the Music Academy’s administration, voicing our desires to attend the live festival. With true respect, Dean DeVries agreed in no time to guarantee our return for the 2021 season. I am grateful for this decision, as I now have another thing to be excited about.
MARLI is surely less demanding compared to a live festival, but it provided so many possibilities for us to explore. All the insightful talks and sharing of experience constantly inspires me. I once felt that an online program is not as potent; however, if the scheduling was more intense, we would have been overwhelmed since the current curriculum already provided us so much inspiration. Maintaining a routine to open my computer at 10:55 p.m. for the seminars or waking up at 7:30 a.m. for the solo piano studio classes have been beneficial to my life, as I now live a more regular schedule. Now that MARLI has ended, I can foresee myself sitting down at the usual time, only to join a meeting room with no one in it. I will surely miss the engagement with my new colleagues.
The four weeks of MARLI has been meaningful and fulfilling to me. It was a wonderful event to participate in during this unprecedented time. A year seems way too long, but I will wait with patience to return the next season, meeting all the wonderful artists, fellows, administration, and compeers.
– Hsin-Hao Yang