WRITTEN BY: Nathan Chan

Hi everybody! My name is Nathan Chan and it gives me enormous pleasure to share with all of you that I will be joining the Arts Fusion Initiative as your cellist this year! A huge reason why I am so excited to be a part of ArtsFi is because of how transformative and informative my encounters with other disciplines have informed the way I view and create music. This vision is at the core of ArtsFi and this year’s project is sure to be an amazing one.

My musical life started when I was 3, through the art of conducting. As a child born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, my parents would put on LaserDiscs (the older ancestor to the DVD) featuring conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. Using a chopstick as a baton, I would do my best in emulating these legends who became my musical heroes. 

Soon after, I began my formal musical career with the cello when I was 5 years old. My love for sharing my passion has only grown from then. One of the most life changing experiences I ever had was the opportunity to record a Beatles cover album with the legendary soul singer Roberta Flack. As a classically trained musician, I had never played any form of pop music; to be swept into her musical world changed the way I think about all art. It made me a more receptive citizen of our artistic world and I feel my experience with ArtsFi will change me as well.

This year, we are going to be performing reflections on the great American composer Walt Whitman’s “The Sleepers”, first published in 1855 yet continuously revised until his death. The poem explores the identities and stories of people and family through the landscape of one’s dreams. I interpret it as exploration of humanity itself and the necessity for empathy we need in order to delve into the subconscious and life. It is so alive and real at moments whilst deeply dark and penetrating in others. 

A poem like this enables the capacity and the opportunity to take it in many directions. I am so eager to explore new pieces of music for me like the Poulenc Cello Sonata, which has one of the most beautiful openings in the cello literature. Or soar with the breathtaking third movement of the Ravel Piano Trio, which most certainly exhibit the qualities of stillness that occur during sleeps and dreams. 

I am equally eager to discover how dance and visual elements will fold into the images we portray. For example, ArtsFi dancers Cleo Person and Kyle Weiler are colleagues and friends from The Juilliard School; I have been so lucky to see their crafts in person. They are truly amazing artists that exhibit their creations with absolute integrity, affection and creativity in its purest forms. 

I am so excited to meet all of you who will be participating in the workshops and attending the concerts in Garden City and Lawrence. I know my inaugural year with ArtsFi will be an absolute blast. I can’t wait!