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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 20 Questions For Vivian Fung

By Michael Vincent on January 21, 2017

Vivian Fung (composer)
Vivian Fung (composer)

Every so often MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung has a talent for combining multiple genres and styles into large-scale works that live and breath as reflections of her multicultural background. A frequent visitor to Toronto, her works have been performed all over the world. Recently, her Violin Concerto No. 2 was commissioned and premiered in February 2015 by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Jonathan Crow.

She’ll be back in Toronto on January 29 (and in Oshawa January 28) for the World Premiere of Launch! — a co-commissioned between Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Ontario Philharmonic in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

What are three things about Toronto that make you want to live here?

Visiting with relatives (I have lots of relatives here), the FOOD, my musician friends that I have come to know over the years.

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

Any mocktail, virgin drink.  I have had these strange hallucinations when I consume alcohol, probably allergic.  I’m actually writing a piece about it soon.  I’m what you call a cheap date.

Your favorite sound?

My son Julian’s voice (he’s 19 months old as of writing this).

Your favourite smells?

The waft of freshly baked bread – when I was living in NY, we lived close to a bakery in Jackson Heights.

The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair?

The 80s over-fizzed perm.  If you are Asian and ever burnt your hair from a perm, you’ll know what I mean.

The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years?

Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke
The Unanswered Question, Bernstein
Poetics of Music, Stravinsky

Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure?

New York.

Where did you go to school?

The Juilliard School.

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Music Composition with a minor in piano.

Your ancestry?

Chinese.

Your major character flaw?

Impatience.

The character flaw in others that you can’t abide?

Impatience.

What is the best thing about your work?

Solitude.

What is the worst thing about your work?

Solitude.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

My son running and playing upstairs.

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

Percussion so I can bang out all my aggressions and play with all sorts of toys.

Have you ever fired a gun? If so, what were the circumstances?

NO!

The strangest road you’ve ever travelled?

Travelling the back dirt roads in Yunnan province, China where I was researching music and culture of minority groups there. Planning a return visit soon.

The first album that made you love music?

I forget which recording, but listening to Sacre du Printemps for the first time was the defining moment for me.

The first three things that you do every morning?

Hit the snooze button, check on my son, pee.

The best way to die?

Laughing.

.

To read more from our Q&A Series, click HERE.

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Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is Publisher of Ludwig Van. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
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