'O God, who once stirred love and hope in our souls, now kindle a passion for liberty.'

Giuseppe Verdi

Duet: ‘Dio, che nell’alma infondere’
Act 2, Don Carlo (1867)
Placido Domingo (Don Carlo), tenor
Louis Quilico (Rodrigo), baritone
Metropolitan Opera (1983)


'1001 Nights' available for listening

Some have asked when 1001 Nights: The Radio Play will be available for listening on demand. That time has finally arrived! You can find the audio at the ICRT web site and in the 'On Demand' menu of the ICRT Radio app.


The e-book can be downloaded from SmashwordsAmazonApple, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, and other online book shops.

Thanks as always for your kind interest. Enjoy!


Opera in Cinema

What makes opera such a powerful element in many films? In this short video essay provided by the English National Opera, Lewis Bond suggests that where film often reflects our experience, opera refracts it. The result injects an element of raw but universal feeling into the story.



Taiwan Mussorgsky Project at CJCU

Shao-Hsun Chang, pianist
in recital at the Chang Jung Christian University
Tainan, Taiwan

11.22 Tuesday 19:00

featuring Mussorgsky: 'Pictures at an Exhibition'
with images of the Taiwan Mussorgsky Project

It’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention. – Mark Strand



1001 Nights: The Radio Play

Let's escape.

'1001 Nights: The Radio Play'
premier broadcast

11.03 Thursday 22:00 (10:00 pm)

ICRT FM100 Taiwan

featuring the voices of

Chia-Hsuan Lin
Paul Batt
Ruth Landowne Giordano
Alton Thompson

and the music of

Nikolai Rimsky-Kosakov

produced by

Tim Berge and Ping Lu

written and directed by 

Alton Thompson

based on
'1001 Nights: The Short Story'

inspired by the medieval classic

Want to catch the broadcast online?
Just check your time zone below and visit us at ICRT.

11.03 Thursday 14:00–14:30

Auckland, New Zealand
11.04 Friday 03:00 (UTC+13 hours)

Sydney, NSW, Australia
11.04 Friday 01:00 (UTC+11 hours)

Japan / South Korea
11.03 Thursday 23:00 (UTC+9 hours)

Manila, Philippines
Hong Kong and Macau, China
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11.03 Thursday 22:00 (UTC+8 hours)

Jakarta, Indonesia / Vietnam / Thailand
11.03 Thursday 21:00 (UTC+7 hours)

New Delhi, India
11.03 Thursday 19:30 (UTC+5:30 hours)

Dubai, UAE
11.03 Thursday 18:00 (UTC+4 hours)

Baghdad, Iraq
11.03 Thursday 17:00 (UTC+3 hours)

Istanbul, Turkey
11.03 Thursday 17:00 (UTC+3 hours)

Johannesburg, South Africa / Cairo, Egypt
11.03 Thursday 16:00 (UTC+2 hours)

Abuja, Nigeria / Paris, France
11.03 Thursday 15:00 (UTC+1 hour)

London, UK
11.03 Thursday 14:00 (GMT)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
11.03 Thursday 12:00 (UTC-2 hours)

11.03 Thursday 11:00 (UTC-3)

USA Eastern / Ontario and Quebec, Canada
11.03 Thursday 10:00 (UTC-4 hours)

USA Central
11.03 Thursday 09:00 (UTC-5 hours)

USA Mountain
11.03 Thursday 08:00 (UTC-6 hours)

USA Pacific / British Columbia, Canada
11.03 Thursday 07:00 (UTC-7 hours)

USA Hawai'i
11.03 Thursday 04:00 (UTC-10 hours)



In Search of Incredible

What a thrill to be a Wright brother! Thanks to my colleagues for a memorable day. Congratulations to Jonney Shih and everyone at Asus on the achievement.

0:00 - 0:44
4:13 - 4:33

Big tip of the newsboy cap to Orville, Wilbur, 'Leo and Neil. I'm forever a fan.




Taiwan jaiyou!

In Taiwan the expression Táiwān jiāyóu! (臺灣加油) is analogous to Vive le France! in another country. It is a rousing cheer, an exhortation to dig deep and step up, and a summons to victory.

Newly elected Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) first greeted the Twitterverse with 'Taiwan jiayou!' And it's a cheer that regularly greets Taiwan's athletes when they enter the arena of world competition.

The word jiayou is probably best left untranslated. It gathers all the meanings we convey in English exhortations like 'onward', 'forward', 'go', 'good luck', 'fight', 'win', 'hail', 'long live', and 'forever'. Jiaoyou is viva and vive and a bit of über alles. It does all this work for individuals and teams as well as countries. And, like 'rah', it's an easy word to get your voice behind.

We've been hearing this greeting often in the past week as this country marks another peaceful transfer of power in celebration of its first twenty years of democracy.

Taiwan jiayou!



President Tsai

Once again, the people of Taiwan have shown the world through our actions that we, as a free and democratic people, are committed to the defense of our freedom and democracy as a way of life. Each and every one of us participated in this journey. My dear fellow Taiwanese, we did it.
I would like to tell you that, regarding the results of the January 16th elections, I have always had one interpretation only. The people elected a new president and new government with one single expectation: solving problems.
[....] I would also like to tell you that the multitude of challenges before us require that we face them honestly and shoulder the responsibilities together. Therefore, this speech is an invitation. I invite every fellow citizen to carry the future of this country.

Today Dr Tsai Ing-Wen was inaugurated as Taiwan's fourth elected president. The full text of the president's speech is available online in English translation.



Of Bohemian and Bourgeois, or, Can we sell out yet?

A series at NewMusicBox is exploring the ways artists address the tensions of art and commerce in their personal lives. It's a fascinating and candid discussion and I encourage art lovers to check it out.

One paragraph in an article by Bonnie Jones caught my eye. In it, the acclaimed composer pauses in sharing her personal reflections to pose a set of questions.

So why then, does it still seem novel when artists talk transparently about the money they make from art or other jobs? I wonder if talking about the very unsexy ways we make a living threatens some myth of the serious artist? The serious artist doesn’t sell out. The serious artist only cares about the art and everything else is false. The serious artist never compromises their authenticity for money. The serious artist never considers themselves part of the nasty capitalist game where many fight for what few resources are available. The serious artist’s success is based on a meritocracy. Who can actually live like this? Where did this myth come from? Did capitalism create the myth and ultimately make fools of us all?

These questions do loom large in artists' lives. And history shows that these questions have answers. Time has set art upon a journey that as artists we necessarily join in mid-course. Taking account of the route art taken so far can help us get our bearings and, if necessary, make course corrections.

The admonition against 'selling out' was the brainchild not of 'capitalism' but of artists determined to resist its pressures. It's a signature of the bohemian movement—a cultural beat that still goes on after a century and a half.

Add caption
The ideal of the bohemian is to stay true to one's vision, even if doing so obliges the artist to live in poverty (or do some disreputable moonlighting).

The unthinkable alternative: to compromise one's creativity in the manner of the shopkeeper who tailors each creation to the customer. That approach, says the bohemian, marks the bourgeois—the person wedded to convention who values superficial respectability and material comfort over a life of passion, originality and vision.

The bourgeois stands utterly against the creative life, says the bohemian. Creativity requires authenticity. One must be as one is, do as one does, mean what one expresses. The only crime in Bohemia is pretending to be something you're not.

No one can deny the contributions of the movement to the world of art and the world at large. Still, no philosophy is beyond a second guess. If we now must apprehend for questioning the perpetrators of the 'myth' that treats with indifference artists' need to pay the rent, we will find the usual suspects sitting at their usual table in the Café Bohème.

Do we now suspect that the shopkeepers had something to offer the discussion after all? Is it easier today to imagine no hell below us for those artists whose paintings match the sofa? If so, it makes sense to explore our suspicions.

But it doesn't do to blame the bourgeois for the inconvenient ideals of the bohemian. When those ideals were born the bourgeois was just standing nearby, minding the shop.



Open to All: Communities and the Arts

Free societies will be more richly served the day they see the value of performing arts organisations as akin to the value of great libraries and museums. All these things are resources in advancing culture, and in opening the achievements of culture to all.

Open societies get off on the wrong foot when they think of the performing arts by thinking of them not as resources for sharing culture, but as niche forms of commercial entertainment, best left to make their way according to the rules of the marketplace as commercial products must.

The flaw in this habit of thought appears at once when we turn the subject from the arts of music and dance to the arts of literature and painting. Everyone understands the need for libraries and museums. Most people understand that the experience of commercial best sellers and cute posters cannot substitute for the experience of Woolf's books or Wyeth's paintings. They understand instinctively that it would be a profoundly unhealthy thing for society overall if all the works of Woolf and Wyeth were to be sequestered away in private collections, accessible only to those wealthy enough to buy everything or to those influential enough to get invitations to the owner's mansion for a glimpse.

Yet on the subject of the performing arts, that is what many people advocate. 'Let those who want symphonies pay for them themselves,' they say. What this means, in effect: 'Put the experience of live symphonies away in a place where I and my neighbours will never find it.' Worthy achievements of Beethoven and Copland are pushed aside as worthy achievements of Woolf and Hemingway are not, for no apparent reason other than the artistic medium.

And the reality is that most people who want symphonies can not pay for access to them entirely on their own. This should not surprise us, as most people who want access to the complete works of Hemingway cannot afford to stock everything in their own personal libraries, either. Access to all: that's why communities build concert halls and theatres, libraries and galleries.

Inequality may linger in the world of material things, but great music, great literature, great art and the wonders of science are, and should be, open to all.

– Franklin D Roosevelt


Another birthday?

Yow. Quickcue music.




Tonight I’m remembering a moment from my first year in Taiwan. It’s winter 2005. I am riding in a bus with colleagues from my university. The news program on TV shows a press conference with Condaleeza Rice.

The professor in the next seat turns to face me. ‘Men in your country don’t really listen to her, do they?’


‘Men in your country don’t listen to that woman on TV, do they?’

‘She’s Secretary of State. Why wouldn’t they?’

‘I know, but she’s a woman. Men in your government... they don’t really take a woman seriously as their boss?’

I’m startled, but the answer is immediate. ‘They do if they don’t want to get fired.’

My colleague’s expression turns grim. He sits back. The rest of the ride is quiet.

Tonight I am thinking of that conversation. I wonder where that man is now, what he makes of today’s events in his own country. The times are a-changing . . . ah, but aren’t they always.

Congratulations to my Taiwanese neighbours of all political loyalties. You’ve again achieved the kind of peaceful transfer of power that for many people in the world remains a distant dream.

Congratulations, Dr Tsai Ing-Wen, president-elect of Taiwan. You won the confidence of millions and, in the process, realized a dream of your own.

And to all the young women I’ve seen brandishing banners in recent weeks for your Mingkuotang and your New Power and your People First and your Democratic Progressives and your Nationalists and your Taiwan Solidarity . . . congratulations to you, too.