Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Of Genus, mitosis, and Japan (Part 3)

Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nihon or Nippon, literally "sun source") - an East Asian country surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Philippine Sea, the East China Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk. *source: Wikipedia *

It is also the place where the Niibori guitars originated.

FACT 1: It has been more than 20 years since Genus has been performing with these guitars, and we have always been keen to publicise the fact that we ARE the first and leading Niibori guitar orchestra in the region (ie. SEA). As a matter of fact, i believe there aren't that many such guitar orchestras in SEA to start with, and probably most of those are found in Singapore.

FACT 2: It has been more than 10 years since Genus has ventured out of Singapore to perform in ANY sort of performance/engagements. Since my undergraduate days in Genus in the mid 90s, this has been the norm. Each time the Committee proposed and planned for an overseas trip, the idea would suffer a quick and silent death. Dreams about going overseas for an exchange, or a guitar orchestra competition, remained as what they were - dreams, as no Committee had the time, energy, nor guts to carry the "burden" of following up on the planning details. Thus, with the handing over of duties to the next Committee every March/April period, the dream also gets handed over and forgotten quickly - buried under the more impending and mundane duties like planning for Welcome Tea, Matriculation ,etc..

FACT 3: Genus has been invited by our Japanese counterparts from the Niibori academy to visit Japan for a 2 week exchange programme! This was following the visit to Singapore by the Tsu Ensemble last year, where Genus invited them to perform for us at our CFA Dance Theatre. Japanese, being the ever polite and good host they usually are, reverted to us on a proposed performance 'tour' to various schools/locations in Japan. An ad-hoc Committee was thus formed, comprising mostly seniors members of Genus, to coordinate and plan the Japan trip. So that this time, the dream would finally come true..

So what do all these have to do with Operation Mitosis? Lots...

Firstly, the trip is scheduled sometime in June/July 2006, which means that whoever is selected by Dom to represent Genus, would probably have to meet up for practices between March and June.
Secondly, with an estimated performing strength of 20 people, Dom has already hinted that most like he will pick the seniors/alumni members, as these folks are the real "pillars" of Genus, and can be trusted to put up a credible performance in Japan. Obviously nobody wants to go to Japan and make a fool of themselves by playing some lousy shit, and worse still, playing out-of-tune and not knowing it!

To me, this presents a huge problem and dilema. With the R&R concert ending in March, i believe that ideal time to bring about mitosis would be the one-two weeks following that. Many seniors are considering leaving Genus after the concert this year, based on the general feel and mood (and of cos, based on the gossips and hearsay) of the lot. Thus, if we DO want to bring forth a formal proposal to CFA on the formation of a new guitar entity, we would have to garner some support and commitment from these senior players. Afterall, without a committed group of at least 12-15 players, i don't feel that we have a case and there's no point even going further, considering the amount of effort and troubles that mitosis would entail.

Yet, this 12-15 senior players are exactly the SAME group that Dom is targetting for the Japan trip! As of now, i do not know if these players are, in fact, interested on going to Japan, but i believe some of them would surely relish the opportunity to visit the Niibori schools. I myself being one of them... how i wish i could be there...

However, what would be the consequences of this group of players actually going to Japan, representing Genus, using the Genus fund to subsidise their trip, and then come back to Singapore only to declare - We are quitting Genus. Not only that, we are joining/forming a separate Niibori guitar group that has nothing to do with Genus.

I don't know how other people feel about this, but that sounds really callous to me...

Think about those other Genus members who would love to go Japan, but would have missed out on the opportunity because there're a handful of these senior players who have seemingly a "guaranteed" spot.
In a truly meritocratic society, there's no fault to be found. May the best player win the spot and carry the Genus flag high in Japan. But is this what we really want?

I am forced to relate this situation with the so-called auditions of small groups, each time we prepare for a performance/concert. Now, if it was really based solely on merit (ie. which small group can play better), i would really, really feel sorry for the junior(s) who had joined a small group and wanted to play in the concert. Why, senior groups like Masak and Guitaresque could easily take up ALL the small group slots! What's there to audition then??

Coming back to the Japan trip, i feel that players who are eventually chosen and decide to go to Japan to perform as part of Genus, should stay in Genus to give back to the group. The experience gained from the trip should benefit Genus, especially the younger members who have missed out on the opportunity this time. For instance, if the players attend a workshop or even a sectional in the Niibori school, they could bring back what they see and hear, and introduce any good practices that they learned to Genus. But whatever it is, they should not just adopt a "thank you and good bye" attitude. That is my personal opinion...

Sigh... so should we just give up Japan and carry out mitosis, or should we forget about mitosis totally, and just enjoy the trip while we can. Or could we just bury our conscience for a while and go Japan, and STILL carry out mitosis when we are back?

Personally, i don't think i am prepared to live with the consequences of that 3rd option...


Anonymous hansen said...

huh? no part iv?

How about not going to Japan, and leaving mitosis to be driven by the slow waves of time?

Personally, there's this fear of fulfilling the prophecy, that doing more will actually steer towards the inevitable. So the more we plan, the more we try to avert...a disaster, the more likely it will happen...

But seriously, Japan should be reserve for people who is willing to stay for another 2 years? Maybe can sign contract? Because it's partially funded by GENUS after all...well if it means lesser capable players going then so be it! As long as they're committed, we can go there and learn and minimal performance (or rather sliting our stomach with out Singapore tainted Niborii samurai swords..)

Unless we can go as autonomous, independent individual (hint hint...) who will not take any money from GENUS or CFA?

7:39 PM  
Blogger Yen said...

i am one of the many still staying on in genus cos i want to go japan. yes, and quit after the japan trip. i thought of not playing for the mar concert, but it would be very irresponsible, even though i'm not an SL, yes i am referring to han siang.

sign contract? at least 2 years? then how about the 7 yrs or so i've spent in genus? wah...all not important lah? yes i agree that it's not right to quit after the trip, and being unable to pass it on. but you sure we have a chance to pass on what we know? with dominic around, he'll always call the shots. since he's going japan, he can be the one to pass it on.

someone asked me, since we don't like him, why don't we just write in/feedback to cfa that we want him sacked?

2:12 PM  
Blogger Wai said...

There is always a request for feedback after every year. I think if anyone has anything to say, they should utilise this opportunity to write in to CFA. Of course, if you really feel so strongly about this that you can't wait then you can always write in to CFA any time.

I think it would be highly irresponsible to go and just quit, under whatever circumstances. Genus is the reason for the opportunity to go to Japan, and if we go, then at the very least, stay on for 1-2 more years and share what you have obtained from the trip.

I think we must consider the purpose of Mitosis. Is it just because of the conductor, and the current situation in Genus? Or do you really want to form a smaller, dedicated group with lower recruitment and lower turn-over to play more advanced pieces without being held back by the dead weight we get in Genus every year? The kind that doesn't play well and doesn't care... Perhaps it is time to reevaluate why we are in Genus in the first place.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Hiong Gai Gai said...

Actually, i think its a combination of factors, why mitosis is being seriously considered now.

The "technical gap" between the incoming batches and the alumni/seniors staying back will increase. This is inevitable, since we only get better with the years of experience. At some point, the senior player WILL feel that he/she isn't really benefiting from the slow progress of the entire group. Lack of motivation is a sure killer of any further interest in the activities of the group.

If the group has a good conductor/music director, one who is able to bring forth new ideas, motivate its members, so that the members feel that they can LEARN new things- i dont think this problem will surface. (think Prof Koyama, or Prof Manji as our conductor.. )

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, just realised u all have this type of blogs...

What i think is, i do not encourage mitosis...why not just form another organelle (e.g a mitochondrion, another nucleus..haha) in the GENUS cell. In a way, this mitochondrion (bcos it has it own set of mitochondrial DNA) has its own direction...and at the same time can serve as a power house for the GENUS cell...and not forgetting, this mitochondrion may need some 'supplies' from the GENUS cell also (i.e. mini ensemble may need the annual concert for showcasing...). Hence, it will be good if this newly formed mitochondrion and the GENUS cell could work mutually for a brighter future....

sorry for the use of biological analogy...i'm a biology suvy...~Ry

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