2020 has been an unprecedented year, to say the least. As we look back, we can see challenging times and massive changes, but we can also see immense growth and resilience in the face of adversity. At times, our current circumstances may make the world seem so far apart, yet we are also inherently connected.
While I’m writing this here in New York, I am reflecting on the other side of the globe. As much of the world was on pause, Taiwan had its first 10,000-person concert in August, as detailed by TIME magazine. Then, in November, The Phantom of the Opera began performing in Taiwan with an audience of over 5,000, as Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast even made a video clip for the Taiwanese audience on social media. That same month, Yo-Yo Ma praised Taiwan in his first live performance since February. After performing for an audience of over 4,000 in Taipei, he traveled to the sunny southern city, Kaohsiung, and reunited with his long-time music partner Kathryn Stott to give a duo recital at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying). Most recently, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center launched a 10 day tour of Taiwan in December. These were all made possible by the Taiwanese people and government’s diligence throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
I also reflect on the enduring creativity, adaptability and resilience of our partnership, as the U.S. and Taiwan stood together during these trying times. In particular, our Taipei Cultural Center continuously worked with organizations on various cultural and arts projects throughout the 'Year of Online Programs'. For example, the Taiwanese artist Lee Mingwei’s “Our Labyrinth” came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Similarly, the Ju Percussion Group performed at the 2020 Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan presented 'Beckoning', as well as the first episode of the Making of '13 Tongues,' with both the University Music Society of Michigan University and the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, in anticipation of its long-awaited tour in the US in 2021. In other news, the debut, live-streamed reading of Tropical Angels, was the first Taiwan original musical successfully developed into Chinese and English versions concurrently. Finally, we closed out the year with the Taiwan B-Movie by Anthology Film Archive, along with a handful of online film festivals in Chicago, Boston and New York.
As I look back on our year in review, I am incredibly proud of my homeland, Taiwan. With that being said, I am also continuously grateful for the opportunity to experience all the wonders of New York, even in the midst of such a difficult year. As a new New Yorker who recently moved here from a different cultural background, I find that I have already grown so fond of my new home, your support has added another layer of strength and inspiration for me to stand with such a strong community.
I recall reading Pound for Pound, Taiwan Is the Most Important Place in the World on the New York Times a few weeks ago. As the article elaborated on how Taiwan has become a key figure in the computer chip market, an increasingly important aspect of the global IT race. To me, besides the innovative IT industry, Taiwan is truly one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. To my friends in the U.S. and Canada, just as I am experiencing a slice of the beauty and essence of New York, I hope that our partnership will further enrich this wonderful experience for all of us both now and into the future.
I wish you all a peaceful and joyful New Year, and I look forward to moving forward with you in 2021.
Hui-Chun Chang 張惠君
Director of Taipei Cultural Center in New York