01.01.18Happy New Year 2018
For the year of 2017, I resigned all my jobs and take a sabbatical year to travel and write. I am glad to announce that as 12/31/2017 I have completed my Piano Concerto NO. 1 and the music department has approved my thesis. Now I have officially completed my third Master Degree in my last year of 30th. To those are curious if I will continue to get my doctorate..... the answer is NO. The main focus of my next year will be my third album with original jazz love songs called "Set for Love". I am glad to start my new year by meeting with my lyricist David Keyes tomorrow and I am thrilled to have Ulysses Owens as my producer. Hopefully it will be released in the fall of 2018. So stay tuned!
I think my program note can serve pretty well as my newsletter for it documents my life of the past year. Thanks to all my mentors and dear friends for your support on this lonely composer path. Love to you all and Have a Blessed New Year!!!
This Piano Concerto was composed for a thesis requirement of my M.M. in Composition degree at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. During my time at this
deservedly highly reputed institution my musical tools and compositional styles have been greatly enriched under the amazing mentorship of Professors Tania Leon, Arturo O’Farrill, and Dalit Warshaw. They have taught me to discover my own voice, to stay true to my calling, and
most importantly, to dare to dream the impossible. Writing a piano concerto has been the most challenging task I have ever undertaken. However, with their encouragement and guidance, I have persevered and finished the race.
After the disappointing national election result at the end of 2016, I decided to resign all my obligations in the States and take some time off to compose at my birthplace, Taiwan, in
2017. I flew back to Taiwan a day before the inauguration and arrived just in time to celebrate the Chinese New Year. As an immigrant who had left her homeland twenty years ago , it was a heartwarming experience to reconnect with my roots and reunite with my family and dear friends, especially during such a troubling time.
The first movement of the Concerto opens with a fanfare of the joyous celebration and later journeys through many captivating places that I visited throughout China and Japan. It was a fascinating adventure yet, at the same time, a bit unsettling, as I am still searching my heart to find out where my true home and future should be. While the oriental folklike melody celebrates my Asian heritage, the clave and African rhythm gives it a mixed identity, as my Chinese has already been marked with “American accents."
The second movement is written as a remembrance of a temporary romance. Although the love is fleeting and could not last due to the circumstances, I choose to believe that true love is immortal. Those beautiful memories have already become a part of me and will always come alive through my music. After mourning what is lost while pouring the hurt and pain into this romantic movement, anguish and bitterness eventually transcends into grace and beauty, evaporating into a serene peace.
Upon my return to New York this summer, after a rejuvenating journey to the East, I was deeply distressed by the disturbing news I was hearing on a daily basis. The third movement gives voice to my protest against fascism and injustice with a tone of sarcasm. The dissonant and clashing harmonies represent the chaotic state in which we find ourselves during the year of composition, as Russian musical elements collide with a distorted American Anthem. Despite experiencing anger and despair, I am determined to take heart, continuing to march forward towards an unknown future. As an immigrant I often ponder where my real home is. After journeying throughout different parts of the world I realize that “Home" is where my loved ones are. I still love this land and I still have hope for this nation; God Bless America.
Thanks everyone for your warm birthday wishes.
Lately I have decided to take a social media recess therefore have not been in touch on FB much but for those are wondering what I have been doing or where on earth I am residing, here is my quick update.
After spending a few wonderful months promoting my album in Asia, I am back in the States to finish up my Master degree in Composition at Brooklyn College. I am currently working with my fabulous composition mentor Tania Leon on my graduation thesis, which is a Piano Concerto in three movements. It is the longest and most difficult piece I have ever written and I am still battling with this monster that myself have created. Even though it is a constant struggle, I am determined to defeat this beast and finish the race by the end of the year.
It was really great to take some time off to be with family and dear friends I love in my motherland, but the downside is that I have gained a lot of weight after eating non-stop due to people’s warm hospitalities. The transition of coming back to the States was actually quite emotionally rough: seeing the horrendous news daily and facing the “colder" culture of western society makes me reexamine the meaning of being an American. What also makes the transition difficult is that I had resigned all my jobs last year and need to restart my career from ground zero again. It takes a lot of courage to let go of the financial stability I used to have and leaving the communities I was much part of.
However, I believe life is about taking risks and boldly pursue your passion. The good thing about being “rock bottom" is you can only go upward from the lowest point. After a few dry months which gave me plenty of time to refocus on my composition, my life as a freelance musician starts to get really full again. I currently have 12 adorable piano students and I direct two adult choirs on Sunday. I also have a jazz trio that I get to play more regularly and I start to work on my third jazz album with my dear lyricist, David Keyes and my super talented friend/producer, Ulysses Owens. It is a new project that I am really excited about and my main focus in the new year to come. I have faith that no matter how difficult the situation could be at times, I serve a faithful God, who will always provide my needs. All I need to do is to follow my calling and He will direct my path.
Speaking of album, I still would like to take this moment to thank all my supporters who funded my CD “Not Alone" around my birthday last year. I didn’t get to promote it as much as I wish upon my return to the States for my priority is to finish my concerto. I also do not want to associate myself with the name “Evangelical Christian" by promoting a sacred hymn album during this sensitive time. However, lately I am reminded of my responsibility of sharing this album more as it is not just about my music, it is my living testimony as a woman of color/immigrant who have survived abuses and trying to rise above all the obstacles set in her way. And I hope by sharing my own stories, it will inspire other women to do the same as well. I am glad to see that more women are bravely coming forward in the recent #Me Too movement and encourage each other that we are “Not Alone" in this long fight of gender equality.
As a single woman who is celebrating her last year in her 30th, I have come to realize that if I am not afraid of being “Alone", then I am also less afraid of anything else in life. Aging doesn’t make me feel more anxious or sorry about myself, it only makes me braver and more resilient towards the unknown future.
Thanks again for all your support and love,
12.29.16Happy New Year- Step into the Unknown
Greetings! I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing time with your family and friends over the holiday break. As 2016 has come to an end, I would like to share with you a summary of highlights throughout the year as well as my plans for 2017.
I have officially completed all my graduate courses at Brooklyn College Conservatory and also passed the Comprehensive exam. However, I still have not obtain my degree yet as I need to finish writing my Piano Concerto. Since I enrolled in the master’s degree in composition at BC, writing for orchestra has become a new love. Since playing piano remains my passion, I aim to combine these two together. It is a huge undertaking and I tend to aim high, but I do want to finish strong coming away with a work of which I am proud, even it is taking longer than I planned. Nevertheless, it is my absolute priority to finish this piece in 2017, and if you don’t hear from me for a while, that means I am composing.
Beside my life as a composition student, I had the honor to continue serving as the Director of Music Administration at Afro Latin Jazz Alliance. It was a privilege to work with outstanding jazz cats in the orchestra and brilliant guest Artists such as Dr. Cornel West along with Maestro Arturo O’Farrill. We put on four memorable concerts at Symphony Space, the historic Apollo Theater and El Museo Del Barrio in New York City. Our fabulous orchestra won two Grammy Awards this year and I had opportunity to travel with our ensemble to witness a sold-out performance in beautiful Paris. I always thought it is quite amusing that although Asian kids were not encouraged by their parents to hang with brown and black folks, I take pride of being part of the organization that carries the vision to preserve the heritage of Latin Jazz as well as making progressive music at the same time. Our mission of bringing music education to the underprivileged children in the public schools is certainly commendable. It was no doubt a valuable experience of being challenged beyond my comfort zone both culturally and musically. I believe what makes me a true New Yorker is to love and to serve people whose colors are different than mine.
My other job is serving as the pianist at the Grace Church of Greenwich, Connecticut. Although it is painful for a jazz musician to wake up at 6 am on Sunday morning and drive over an hour, week after week, it is also a good opportunity to breathe the fresh air outside NYC among beautiful trees and houses. The members of the congregation enjoy my piano playing so much that they encouraged and supported me to make an album featuring my solo improvisations on classic hymns. After two years of waiting, I finally took on the challenge of producing this solo piano album this fall, and it is a recording project that is completely founded by fans and friends. I feel so loved and blessed as I am surrounded by people who believe in my gifts and want to see it comes to fruition. I pray the Lord can use my music and story to inspire other people to use their gifts and talents and offer their very best to Him as well. It means a lot to me that my music has a spiritual impact in people’s lives and being a musician is ultimately not a self-serving and self-seeking career.
After hours of labors of love, I am happy to announce that my hymn album “Not Alone" is finally launched on CD baby online at: http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/mavispan2
In order to bring this music to a larger audiences so more people can be blessed by it, I have decided to resign both my jobs at ALJA and the Grace church starting from January 2017. I feel the call to share my music and travel to many places and resume my passion of performing. Although it is a bit scary to give up two stable jobs with steady income and resume my life as a freelancer again, I think it is time to take a leap of faith and step into the unknown. It is a test of a faith which requires my completely trust in Him as my provider and to devote myself fully as a musician. I believe life is about taking risks and having the courage to fail, and even I fail, I learn to stand back up again. At the pivot point of choosing which master to serve, I chose to follow my heart and am determined to boldly pursuing new things I passionately love.
Although saying goodbye to the communities and people I love was a heartbreaking task, I also look forward to seeing families and friends who are eagerly waiting for my arrival at the other side of the world. The first stop of my 2017 adventure will be in Taiwan; my departure date is Jan 19th. I plan to spend a few months in Asia promoting my album and networking with other artists and hopefully make other stops in Shanghai and Japan. My return date is still uncertain at this point, since I purchased only a one-way ticket, however, I should be back in the spring to hold a CD release party around Easter and I hope to see you upon my return to NYC. Besides performing, I also would like to take the time to complete my piano concerto and spend a month in Paris to study composition intensively for a month in July and visit friends in other parts of Europe.
I pray that 2017 will the productive and fruitful year for you, too, and you will find strength to overcome all the challenges and obstacles along the way. I hope you can continue to support me both spiritually and financially as I continue to find new ways to sing/write a new song to the Lord. During my time away from NYC, I plan to document my travel by uploading video clips in the youtube channel called “Everything Mavis". It will not only contain my music but also scenery and interesting people and things I encounter along my journey, so stay tuned.
Please feel free to drop me a line by email and I would like to hear what is going on in your life as well. Wish you a very happy New Year.
12.20.16Mavis' Upcoming Album "Not Alone"
It is my absolute pleasure to announce that my latest album "Not Alone" -featuring my solo piano improvisation on classic hymns are now available online for sale at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mavispan2
Far from providing a dogmatic outline of our lives, faith is a journey of imagination and creativity. There are infinite possibilities for what our God can do in our ordinary lives and His wisdom is beyond what we can fathom. Music is a gift from God to celebrate our faith as we express our gratitude for Christ's redeeming work on the cross. It also serves as a healing stream to comfort broken hearts as we present our hurts and pains to Him. This solo album reflects my personal struggles and walk with Jesus; it is intimate and honest as well as adventurous and wildly imaginative. I hope you will be blessed by this music, just as people were blessed with the sweet fragrance in the room when Mary poured out her alabaster jar on Jesus' feet.
Please check it out and take a listen and l would love to hear your feedbacks and comments!
09.09.16Mavis' Upcoming Album "Not Alone"
I am happy to announce that my second album "Not Alone" is on is way! It is a solo piano album featuring well-know hymns with my own improvisation and interpretations.
While solitude is something I treasure as composer, it is also great to have friends and fans like you to share my music and life with. Please take a look of my video and lend your support by visiting the site at:
I plan to release the album by Christmas, so stay tuned!
04.25.16 Review of 2015
Today is the first day of spring break and I finally got some time to revisit my website. I can’t believe it has been more than an year since I last updated any of my news. 2015 had flied through my fingers without me writing much to my fans about my life so a deep apology offered here.
It has been a challenging year adjusting my life from a composition student to serve as the Director of Music Administration for Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. I have put on three major concerts at Symphony Spaces and was honored to work with world class jazz greats such as Lionel Loueke, Edward Simon and Ray Santos.. Our fabulous orchestra directed by Maestro Arturo O’Farrill has won another Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album this year and I have learned to dance samba and salsa while 18 guys in the orchestra dropping the latin beats … these are the highlights from my job.
About my other life as composition student, I also have completed my Jazz Big Band residency at Brooklyn College and my composition “Pajaro Solitario" (Lonely Bird) was a big hit. It was birthed after a severe heartache so I guess all that pain and sufferings did not go wasted. My second classical orchestra piece “Death and the Maiden" was premiered in the fall by Composer Collective Orchestra at Flushing Town Hall. The piece commemorates a death of love and celebrate the victory over the dark and depressing forces after I mourned over a loss.
My orchestration techniques has improved drastically as my composition mentor Tania Leon required me to hand copy sections of the score of Stravinsky's "Firebird" note by note. Instead of going out with friends or exploring online dating sites such as Coffee meet Bagels or EHarmony like most my single friends do, I have spent most my evenings study and hand copy scores of the great masters. Those dead and living composers were my “dates" over the
past year and have truly fallen in love with their genius and also developed a new passion for writing orchestral works. I realized solitude and loneliness are part of the package of becoming a great composer, whether I like it or not.
Beside these two large scale works, I have also completed a Guitar Ensemble Residency and wrote my second guitar quartet piece “Aspiring Latina". This piece was inspired by all the Latin people I encountered at work, it is full of laughter and fun, it reminds me to stay positive and dance through hardship with beats of the drums. The players and audiences really enjoy it as this Asian girl has got some Latin Sway and humor :)
These three new works can be heard on my listening sections as well as my sound cloud page: https://soundcloud.com/mavis-pan and I hope you can take a listen and give me your feebacks!
12.20.14Christmas Greetings from Mavis!
As 2014 is coming to the end, I would like to send my seasonal greetings and wish you a bright start in 2015. I am happy to report that after three semesters of extreme hard works, I have completed all my requirements courses at Brooklyn College Conservatory. In the coming year, I will only need to compose a substantial piece, most likely a piano concerto, then I will be able complete my master degree in composition.
I am sorry that I might had missed your dinner invitations, your baby shower, your birthday party, your children's birthday parties, your premiers, your performances, CD release parties, holiday parties..... or just not able to catch up on the regular basis due to my continuous deadlines and heavy work load at school. Nevertheless, I wish I will be able to see you more in the coming year for I will not be writing paper anymore :) , at least for a long long while!!
I know it seems a bit crazy that I had decided to go back to school to get my third master degree in my mid-thirties and whether a degree in composition is necessary or not is always debatable, I must say it has been my most prolific period as a composer. My portfolio ranges form solo piece to duo, trio, string quartet, guitar quartet, jazz quintet to Latin big band, funk piece for 12 modern dancers, film scoring, full orchestra and even have my first electro-acoustic avant-grade collaboration! Composing is no longer something I do in my leisure time, it has become the way I live my life, how I pray, I weep, and how I dream about the future.
Even though each composition itself is a struggle and challenging process, I have been learning to search deep within, develop, and relish my own unique voice. To accept and embrace who I am, including my insecurity, my limitation, my insanity, my pain and my doubt. In the end each struggle will lead to its own triumph as the creative spirit inside of me can never be quenched and the oppressed voice that yearns for freedom and equality has to find its way out.
The best thing happened to me at Brooklyn College is to meet my amazing mentor Arturo O'Farrill, a Latin Jazz Master who just won his second Grammy Award! In the coming semester, I will have the privilege to work alongside with him for his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and have the opportunity of having my big band pieces played by top notch jazz musicians in the city! If you are ever out and about on Sunday nights and want to hear some Cuban jazz and catch up our lives over a drink at Birdland jazz club, feel free to drop me a line and you will be my guest!
Have a blessed holiday and Happy New Year!!
In the spirit of Christmas joy and peace,
05.26.14MY First full Orchestra piece Reading
My first full orchestra piece was read by Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra on May 8th 2014, a nerve-racking yet memorable experience.
Moon, was first sketched in the beginning of the fall semester at around the same time as the Chinese celebration of the Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival. Inspired by Ravel’s ballet, Daphnis and Chloe, I decided to compose an orchestral piece that tells the origin of the Moon Festival. “Chang’e Ascending to the Moon" is one of the greatest love story in Chinese history and is retold to the next generation during the Moon Festival yearly.
This folktale has many slightly different versions, but the general rendition sounds like this: Chang’e, a beautiful woman who wished to hold on her beauty forever secretly ate the elixir of immortality, given by the Queen Mother of the West to her husband Houyi. As a result of her selfish motive, she ascended to the moon and could never come back to the earth again. Suffering from loneliness and the pain of separation while she lives in solitude on the moon, she talks to her husband in a dream with remorse and regret: "Usually I cannot fly down to earth, but tomorrow is the full moon. Use flour to make cakes and make them round like the full moon shape. Take them and wait at the northwest of the house. Keep calling my name untill three o'clock in the morning, then I will fly back home. " The following day, her husband did what she instructed him and the couple was finally reunited under the full moon. Because this famous folktale, Chinese families gather at this time of the year and celebrate the Moon Festival by gazing at the full moon while eating round moon cake together, which is a symbol of reunion, harmony and love.
Throughout the history, many Chinese poems and songs are centered on the topic of the moon as a means to express their nostalgic sentiment. This piece is a reflection of my nostalgia for my family, friends and childhood memories of my homeland ,Taiwan, as well as a former lover who is now emotionally distant. The piece begins with a mysterious nocturnal atmosphere that gradually develops into an expressive romanticism. The middle section is a flashback of a joyful and celebratory times, indicated by a fanfare of brass. After the climax, the piece drastically changes to a lament and leading to a mysterious ending with a sense of longing for home, and reunion with one’s love, yet concluding with the question of an unknown future.
Although the piece in heavily influenced by French Impressionism, it still infuses Chinese folk melodies, mix rhythms and tonalities. It is like a hybrid of Ravel and Bartok, yet with a Taiwanese-New Yorker accent.
05.15.14Composer Collective Premier "Never Land" Mezzo piano, horn, cello, clarinet
Never Land by Mavis Pan
This composition is inspired by the Disney film, Peter Pan, which depicts a fictional character who is incredibly mischievous and charming yet possess the spirit of eternal youth. After Peter finds Wendy Darling, who has always believed in Peter Pan’s existence and loves to share tales about him, Peter invites Wendy to an adventure to Never Land. Though Wendy doubts her ability to fly, Peter teaches her the only way to reach her dream land is to leave her worries behind and have faith and trust and a little help of pixie dust...
Upon the farewell of a beloved who reminds me much the character of Peter Pan, I composed this piece as a remembrance of the happy time we have shared and wish his dreams come true as he continues to fly on his musical journey.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it."
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Come with me where dreams are born, and time is never planned.
Just think of happy things and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Land.
Let not doubt crush your wings, let not fear steal your dreams.
Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough.
All you need is faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust.
I am young at heart for my love never grows old.
The wrinkle of time can’t be traced on my innocent soul.
The ship of our dreams will soar and turn to gold.
Oh darling please do hold my hand, and dream with me to Never Land.
Fly oh fly , fly straight till the morning.
Fly …oh fly....oh fly and never never say goodbye.
04.20.14Happy Easter 2014
I know it has been a while since you have heard from me. You may even wonder why close my facebook account and just disappear from the earth. I am happy to report that I am alive and well and have many great things going on in my life.
I basically have been burying myself in composing as I have four premieres coming up in May. It is like having four kids to take care of.. preparing parts, rehearsing with the musicians, constantly revising... However nothing gives me more joy to see my new works being birthed and my dreams and visions come to reality. Those pieces are imprint of my personal journey and it tells the story of my love and joy as well how I battle with my own doubts and pains and the victory over the darkness hours.
I would like to invite you to the following premiers and share some wonderful music with you.
1. I am extremely fortunate to be selected as a Composer-In-Residence for Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra this year. My first full orchestra piece Moon ( 嫦娥奔月) will receive a reading on
When: Thursday, May 8, 2014 6:00 PM
Where: Studio 312, Roosevelt Extension
George Rothman, Conductor
2. Another amazing opportunity is to collaborate jazz piece with renown choreographer Earl Mosley featuring 12 professional dancers
When: Friday, May 9, 2014 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Where: Whitman Theater
Description: Artis Smith, Director
- See more at: http://events.brooklyn.cuny.edu/cal/event/showEventMore.rdo#sthash.HCoJZO35.dpuf
3. Several composer friends of mine have formed a new group called Composer Collective and we are excited to put on our first spring chamber concert. Never Land, featuring Mezzo Soprano, cello, Clarinet, French horn, piano
When: Thursday, May 15, 2014 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Where: American Opera Center.
Cost: RSVP to me as tickets are limited.
4. My first solo viola piece will be premiered by violist Samuel Marchan at the
Brooklyn College Composers Concert
When: Wednesday, May 12, 2014 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Where: Studio 312, Roosevelt Extension
I hope to see you there or visit my website later to hear the recording if you can't make it. Lastly, I will like to share a link of a concert version of the musical "Cross Over Broadway" that I premier last summer in June. May God gives you glory on this glorious Easter Sunday.
10.20.13Mavis Birthday Greeting
It is wonderful to wake up on Sunday morning with birthday wishes from dear friends like you. I know it has been a while that I update my status. Since this fall, I have been back to school to further advancing my composition skill at Brooklyn College Conservatory. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study with great music mentors such as composer Dalit Warshaw and Latin Jazz master Arturo O'Farill. Currently I am working hard on an full orchestral piece and hopefully to have it performed by the conservatory orchestra next semester. I probably don't have time to respond to your individual post today as I am at the library right now working on my midterm paper on West Side Story. Will be in touch soon once the midterm is over.
04.02.13More Studying to Do!
After working intensely on my composition portfolio in the past fall, I have been admitted to the MM Composition Program in Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. I will be spending the next two years study classical composition and I am very excited about immersing myself in the rich musical environment. I look forward to meeting Tania Leon, an highly regarded as a composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as my mentor. I am also excited about working with other faculty and fellow musicians as well.
Stay tuned for my new works and I appreciate your support and encouragements.
01.16.13Mavis' upcoming gigs at Metropolitan Room
After spending an year working on her Classical compositions, Mavis is relaunching into the Jazz scene in New York City. She will be playing piano for the sensational Jazz singer Marie-Claire in the beautiful Metropolitan Room.
12.29.10Mavis is back in the Big Apple
Mavis is currently back to the Big Apple, stay tuned for more of her new compositions!
12.22.09ON MY WAY HOME
Mavis is releasing her debut jazz album "On My Way Home", which features ten of her original compositions.
08.29.09Mavis is in Shanghai
Mavis has relocated to Shanghai for an year. Will keep you posted of her future performances and adventures.