Monday mornings occupy a special time on Amy Liu’s schedule. A Producing Associate from the Programs and General Planning Department, Amy uses the allocated ten minutes to lead the National Taichung Theater Planning Office on a musical journey. She introduces to the audience her old friends, Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, and talks about the lives of these composers as well as topics such as tonality and the sonata form. The listeners’ responses vary. Some indulge in the brief music lesson, while others look puzzled. For people whose ears have not been trained to pick up on the nuances of sound, sleepiness can seep in rather quickly. But who can blame them? Without a broad education in classical music, the genre can appear daunting.
For Amy, though, music has always been a part of her life. She began playing the piano when she was five, and majored in viola during college. She admits that her ears are highly sensitive to sound, so susceptible that she would sweat on behalf of musicians if their performance was a little shaky. Needless to say, she sometimes found it hard to enjoy concerts. As a musician who has had abundant experience in terms of practice and performance, Amy says her new job at the National Taichung Theater means she’s now able to look at performances from a different angle. “There may be imperfections, there may be flaws. But that’s the magic of live performances.” Amy, part of the team that coordinated the NTT’s Lecture-Concerts on Campus tour, understands that even with the same repertoire, no two performances are the same. A piece of music can sound and feel different because of the surroundings, the audience’s response, or even the musician’s own changing moods.
Looking back on her own evolution as a musician, Amy considers herself lucky that she met a great teacher during her college days in the U.S. While music teachers in Taiwan and the rest of Asia tend to point out your mistakes and things you could improve, Amy jokes that maybe Americans are just better at giving compliments—she was fortunate to have a teacher who was always encouraging and reassuring to students. His guidance allowed her to gain confidence during performance on stage.
But praise should not be reserved only for the performers. “The truth is, the audience needs to be encouraged, too,” Amy says. While a person may refrain from a certain program because they think they won’t understand it, often it’s not as difficult as they think. An engaging lecture or a concert for the casual listener are all gateways that can lead a person into the wondrous world of the performing arts. While she used to receive applause on stage, now Amy says the best accolade would be knowing that our programs and events have led an audience member to fall in love with the performing arts. When someone is able to listen to music in a new way or to begin appreciating the arts, these all indicate to Amy that she’s doing her job right.