KaJeng Wong: I am not afraid of getting old
The Golden Times between Young Musicians and an Ensemble of Elderlies
By Miu Law
KaJeng Wong (KJ) speaks as fast as lightning, it seems like you can hear his next sentence before the ending of this one. Often described as child prodigy, KJ‘s music career is in no doubted growing in a quick tempo. Novelist Eileen Chang once said, “Get famous while young”. Time is a witness to talent, and also the harshest judge.
As a musician, is growing a thing worth looking forward to, or a crisis? KJ answered very quickly, “every moment I feel is a sense of crisis.” Is that a fear of physical decline, or losing skills? “That’s too. But this is not the most important thing. I am now almost twenty-seven or eight-year old. There are always people younger and more talented than you are, so what I meant was a sense of crisis, to living. I have just returned from a music camp abroad, where everybody else was seventeen or twenty-one, younger and talented, so cruel.”
KJ at seventeen was confident, and almost arrogant, just like all other seventeen-year-olds. When he used to think the older people were not as good as he was, as he grows older now, he came to realise that the younger ones can overbeat him too. “But now it does not bother me anymore. This kind of thing is humbling. This is the inheritance of human beings. I will be old in the future, just like the elderlies I am about to meet. The older a person is, the more “flat” they become, that is, everyone becomes the same. This is a good thing, the truth of life.”
Equal Exchange on the Musical Path
On the musical path, some goes on with faster beat and some takes it slow, each creates their own sweet harmonies. The “elderly” KJ referred to are the participants of “E Major Instrumental Music Training Scheme for the Third Age”. This programme is an arts educational programme pioneered by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Elderly Services Section, leading to the forming of the first local elderly orchestra E Major Ensemble in 2006. The ensemble is composed of elderly people of fifty-year-old or above and retired persons. And this year, with the support of JOCKEY CLUB New Arts Power, E Major Ensemble is going to co-present Best New Solid Oldies with KJ’s “Music Lab”.
Best New Solid Oldies revolves around the American classic picture’s book The Giving Tree. Through the story of the growth of a tree and a child, the golden songs of different era are connected to life, from childhood to old age. While performing with the E Major Ensemble, Music Lab members also handle the musical arrangement of the youth stage, selecting for the elderlies the pieces that represent their energetic in their minds.
According to Miss Angela Wun, Ensemble Director and Community Services Officer (Elderly services II), Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, the collaboration with Music Lab this year corresponds with the ensemble’s motto: Music without border. “Some elders learn music after retirement, so they are freshmen in music. On the other hand, those young musicians are very experienced. We hope that through this training, the elderly can share their life experiences with young people, and young people can teach the elderly on the music journey. Each has its own things to exchange, we are all equal here.”
My Life Starts Today
Music notes span the age, different stages of life movement have their own profound meaning. KJ replied confidently, “I am not afraid of aging. What is there to be afraid of? One thing I have learnt from aging, is that life starts today. My life starts today, I only experience ‘today’s life’ on this day, so I do not feel old. Don’t the elderlies also have a life to live? They live their life every day! That is why life starts today, and there is nothing to be afraid of.”
The next moment, KJ was standing amongst the E Major Ensemble, rehearsing with them and giving instant feedback and suggestions at his amazing tempo. After a particularly difficult bar, he turned abruptly to a silver-haired violinist in the corner and said, “The way you drew the bow just now, was done very well.” The violinist gave a grin, beaming through his beard, his eyes sparkled with a seventeen years old look.