L to R: Patty, Helena, Ming Chan, Yuen Hon-Wah (Hong Kong, Oct. 2008)
Mr. Yuen Hon Wah and I were introduced to each other back when I was a teenager. My first erhu teacher, Ming Chan, had moved to Australia and we kept in touch through old fashioned letter writing. With my frequent questions about Chinese music and the never-ending search for more scores, Ming referred me to Mr. Yuen, his teacher. I was instructed to write to him in Chinese, which was very difficult for me, and probably even more painful for Mr. Yuen to read! So began our 25 year correspondence. Without ever meeting me in person, Mr. Yuen started sending music books to me. Over the years, he has sent me countless pieces of music. It was always exciting to receive mail from him.
I finally met Mr. Yuen in person on my first trip to Hong Kong in 1995. He was so kind and thoughtful. He introduced me to some of his musician friends and made it possible for us to visit a Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra rehearsal. He had many stories to tell and knew the best restaurants to visit! It was a very memorable trip.
In my life, I have been very fortunate to learn from some great teachers. Not only did they teach their subject well, but they were truly wonderful role models. It was truly a privilege to meet Mr. Yuen. He was passionate about life and music. Most of all, he was willing to share his passion with others, even a teenager he had never met, halfway around the world.