Music is Happiness
CD & book
4. Dr David Tong Remembered
SONGS OF THE TRAVELLERS
Dr David Tong was one of my cancer consultants at Guy's and St. Thomas'. Cancer was a traumatic experience, and I had been to various hospitals and seen by many medical professionals. Some, though kind, could be of few words and even taciturn. Dr. Tong was willing to spend time to talk to patients. He even set time aside for patients who wanted to talk with him. He was kind to me when I was needy. Because he was so kind and sympathetic, at an appointment I suddenly burst out crying, thus releasing bottled up fear, anger and grief — I usually find it hard to cry for myself though I can cry buckets for others. His wife Beryl was also very kind to me. I visited them at their home, and they visited me. We went to see performances and to eat. I also get to know Beryl's sister Joyce.
When I started working on my Music is Happiness CD & book project after surviving cancer for the 2nd time, as Dr Tong wrote poetry, he wrote lyrics for Magic Banyan Tree. This was the last piece to be included in the CD, which I later made into a music video (see link below). Jokingly, he said I should credit him in the video as David Brailsford Tong, or people would think he's Chinese, came from Hong Kong and was my cousin. He said he was actually of Norman stock. He said though Tong is an old English name, he was often mistaken as Chinese, and in his youth — a time of less politically correct awareness this was sometimes an disadvantage for his advancement. When Magic Banyan Tree was performed at Trafalgar Square's Chinese New Year Celebrations, in the presence of the London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Lord Mayor and the Chinese Ambassador, he gladly attended on stage to be acknowledged as the lyricist (see link below). He also wrote poems for Permutation and Tai Chi, two other pieces included in the CD, which were beautifully narrated by Jane Webster before the music (see links below).
Magic Banyan Tree《神奇老榕樹》
Magic Banyan Tree《神奇老榕樹》Trafalgar Sq.
Dr Tong also dedicated some poems to me. When I had cancer for the third time, during the time between two operations, I used these poems as lyrics to quickly write a large scale work for one to two sopranos with symphony orchestra, so as to take my mind off the impending major operation. It is called Songs of the Traveller (or Travellers if there's funding for two sopranos). Though I used software to generate a midi playback recording of the work for Dr Tong to listen to, I knew all these years he had wanted to hear the work performed in a concert hall. Well, it's not easy to get a non-commissioned large scale work performed, and I haven't even tried. It was difficult to cope with the aftermath of having cancer three times, let alone many things that went terribly wrong.
Songs of the Travellers was a large scale work written in a very short time and inevitably needs some revision. It was copied with the Sibelius Acorn version. When I was reasonably well to look at the work again, Sibelius software has changed hands and Acorn had packed up. It was necessary to think about whether to buy a Mac or Windows computer for new Sibelius. I finally bought a computer that I could ill-afford, but I was not well and did not use it for a while. By the time I tried to use it, I found I had bought a computer with problems and the guarantee had expired. After ill-afforded time/money spent on fixing the computer, it was a struggle to learn a completely different system and new terms... and I was crestfallen to find that new Sibelius had problems reading my scores copied with the Acorn version. Simple scores fared better, but complicated scores carefully copied with lots of details are all over the place, e.g. some details appeared miles away, some instruments became something else, spacing all mucked up... I sent these scores to the new Sibelius, though they could cure some, but those that mattered to me were not amongst the rescue, and that includes Songs of the Travellers. I tried Forums etc. for advice but to no avail, and most annoyingly, was not being believed by some as they blindly believe the technology invincible. Basically I need to more or less recopy the work with new Sibelius. Though from time to time this work crossed my mind, and Dr. Tong would remind me of the work, I just can't face the work of recopying more than 70 pages of symphony orchestra score — below this article is a page of this work (copied with Sibelius Acorn version) and you can see what I mean.
Time went by... Beryl died, and then I received a card from Dr. Tong's children. Dr David Tong, after coping bravely with Parkinson's decease for years, died of COVID-19, and coincidentally on my birthday. Should this be a push for me to fulfil his wish of getting Songs of the Travellers performed, or at least revised and properly copied?
The following is a page from the score of Songs of the Travellers
PHOTO: Second L, Dr. Tong. Third L, his wife Beryl. Photo taken when they came to my place for a dinner party. 上圖左二：湯大維醫生，左三：他的妻子貝瑞爾，他們來我家晩餐聚會。