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Obsessed with Art, Lived for Art: A Tribute to Mr. Hsu Po-Yun

Mr. Ju Tzong-Ching
Founder and Artistic Director, Ju Percussion Group

Fifty years ago, I came from a rural area of central Taiwan to Taipei to study at the National Taiwan University of Arts. At that time, I was very shy and quiet, almost inconspicuous among my outstanding classmates. In my memory back then, Mr. Hsu Po-Yun was a vibrant and passionate senior with an artistic flair. I was fortunate to meet Mr. Hsu during a time when I was still uncertain about my career. He assisted and recommended me to learn from an American percussionist Michael Ranta. He, passionate about art and willing to share, did this only because he knew I loved percussion. That was how kind and generous he was.

Later on, whenever New Aspect organized performances, Mr. Hsu would invite me to attend, introducing me to artists and performing groups from overseas. These led to my connections with The Ondekoza and Percussion Ensemble Okada from Japan. Moreover, when Mr. Hsu, along with a group of like-minded composers, organized concerts for new compositions, he always invited me to participate in their world premieres or recording sessions. This encouraged me to explore different possibilities in music and experience the creative potential of percussion in the contemporary world.

For Mr. Hsu, all of these seemed natural, but for a young person like me, living in a poor and closed society while harboring dreams of music, his help was a tremendous encouragement and support. Never considering the cost, Mr. Hsu and New Aspect have done miraculous achievements in promoting arts. His efforts to expand international connections also made an indelible contribution that has greatly benefited everyone.

Since I founded Ju Percussion Group in 1986, Mr. Hsu and I have had numerous collaborations in the professional field. Early on in the 1980s, I briefly assisted New Aspect with the promotion of tours in central Taiwan. Later, I took the role of executive director for organizing events in an international organization called Asian Composers League. During 1994 to 1997, Mr. Hsu served as the 11th president of the league, while I worked as the secretary-general, jointly building a bridge for composers and musicians.

Then, as composer and musician, Mr. Hsu collaborated with Ju Percussion Group, which showed our strong friendship. In 2017, Ju Percussion Group launched a three-year project to commission compositions from senior, middle-aged and new-generation composers. When I invited senior composers, I mentioned that the performed pieces could be either old or new works. Mr. Hsu valued and cherished this collaboration and ultimately delivered a brand-new percussion piece titled “Point ‧ Line ‧ Dimension ‧ Cubicin.” The work premiered at the concert “Our Percussion Music” in 2017 TIFA, Taiwan International Festival of Arts, which held great significance.

In 2022, New Aspect held “HSU Po-Yun’s 60th Musical Anniversary.” Ju Percussion Group was honored to be one of the performers. Mr. Hsu’s physical condition was not so good at that time; however, he still came to see the rehearsals despite the challenging situation. Seeing his focused and dedicated attitude and his pursuit of perfection, I once again felt Mr. Hsu’s love and affection for music.

It can be said that Mr. Hsu’s visionary thinking, keen insight and foresight undoubtedly led to Taiwan’s blooming and thriving culture and art environment. Returning to the creative aspect, I believe that Mr. Hsu is perhaps best described as an “avant-garde and creative composer.” At this moment, with many memories flooding back, I am filled with sorrow and nostalgia. Mr. Hsu, your passion for art and the spirit of living for art will forever move people’s hearts.

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