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Pianist, Digital Artist Blend Exquisitely Together
By Betty Lin

THE hearts and souls of 400 people were captivated at the eye-opening David Braid's Christmas Concert, which was literally in concert with Lu Jun's Digital Ink Artwork Video at the Zhuhai TV Studio on Friday evening.

David Braid is a world-renowned Canadian pianist and composer. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Toronto in 1998 and has won numerous prizes such as the Jazz ID Award of the Canada Council for the Arts, 2009 Jazz Pianist of the Year, SOCAN Composer of the Year (2007), and the Juno and Multi-National Jazz awards. He has performed across Western Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Australia, Brazil, the US and Canada. Over the past six years, he has been on concert tours once a year all over north, middle and recently south China.

The concert kicked off with the Spring Moonlight on the Flowers by the River, a famous traditional Chinese musical piece. It was played by Braid in concert with a digital ink movement video on a huge background screen on stage that had been created by Lu in advance upon listening to piano music provided by Braid.

Then came the first part: continuous playing of improvisation and four musical pieces -- Interior Castles, Le Phare, Semi Unconditional and Spirit Dance. The music and ink movements complemented each other in rhythm, melody and harmony. Spirit Dance was inspired by his own hometown, Toronto, where diverse nationalities provide new cultural elements such as language, apparel, music and food. The composition shows how these nationalities co-exist in peace, Braid noted.

Braid showed his talent in learning language by speaking in fluent Chinese about his concert tours in cities all over China, which immensely impressed the audience. "Chinese people are always friendly to me," he concluded before starting the second part, which included improvisation, Richmond Square and Resolute Bay.

Resolute Bay, named after a small town in northern Canada, is inspired by the chill and blizzards in that hostile environment with few humans. Nevertheless, it is ideal for solitude. When one is solitary, he finds himself sometimes, Braid explained. Lu had created the second-part ink movement video based on hints given by Braid. "It's an unprecedented challenge for me to create the ink movement images upon some brief notes," said Lu. On the other hand, Braid improvised the music by watching the moving ink images, and the performance won deafening applause.

Just as Braid had predicted at a press conference Thursday afternoon: "The essence of improvising music is reacting in the moment, and what I react to in the moment could be the sound of the instrument I play, could be the audience and could be a move. But in this case I have this beautiful visual imagery -- of course every motion of the painting, which is so heartfelt and so rich for the inspiration, I feel tomorrow will be the most unique performance in my life, because I had never had this kind of incredible inspiration before." Braid said he cherished the opportunity of this cooperation. "I feel very, very privileged to work with such a great artist to try to keep this type of expression," he added.

"My music is alive, and it's happening in a moment. It's different from classical music. Mr. Lu's artwork feels alive to me when I watch the images moving, and it engages my imagination. You can see traditional Chinese painting in it, but also you can see something very contemporary. I feel that blends tremendously well with the idea behind why I create," said Braid.
Braid met Lu for the first time only days before, but said he felt they were like brothers. Just like they don't have to meet before they cooperate, he doesn't have to know a lot about Chinese culture before he plays the traditional Chinese musical composition Spring Moonlight on the Flowers by the River and improvises his music in accord with the digital ink movements.  "I feel the art has a possibility to go into, around, outside the culture. It's something to do with the human spirit, which is common across my culture. So I feel like the connection point is more spiritual than cultural," he noted.

Lu, who has engaged in digital ink photography for five years, called creating ink movement images by video an extremely inspiring new experience. It took almost a month to finish the music-based video, he revealed. Braid and Lu autographed CDs, artwork and posters for enthusiastic fans when the concert ended.

TPR Education Management President Simone Xue, who initiated the concert, said he would call the cross-over cooperation an innovative performance art that has overturned traditional concerts. Under the auspices of the Xiangzhou Culture, Sport & Tourism Bureau, the event was organized by Beishan Lihe Cultural Industry Holdings Investment Co. Ltd. with collaboration of TPR Education Management Ltd., TPR English School, Lingya Culture Promotion and Qianfan Advertising Co. Ltd. and supported by HDD, Delta Bridges Media Ltd., Oxford Street and Special Music.

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