Ho: The Warrior Returns with his Afro Asian Music Ensemble
Oct. 10 at 9pm
ACO offers a Composers OutFront! preview of Ho's music leading up to the world premiere of his When the Real Dragons Fly!
Fred Ho will be the featured Composers OutFront! artist on October 10, 2008, at 9pm at BAMcafe in Brooklyn. Admission is free. This event is a precursor to the following month's performance, when Orchestra Underground performs his ACO-commissioned work, When the Real Dragons Fly!, for baritone saxophone and orchestra, with Ho as soloist, on November 14, 2008, in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. The program will be repeated on Sunday, November 16, 2008, in Philadelphia.
Bad-ass baritone sax warrior-virtuoso Fred Ho has fought a brutal two-year battle against colon cancer. He returns stronger than ever, rebuilding his body and breath at the cellular level and bringing his core band of 27 years, the Afro Asian Music Ensemble featuring Bobby Zankel, alto sax; Salim Washington, tenor sax; Ho on baritone sax; Art Hirahara on piano, Wes Brown on bass; and royal hartigan on drums.
Below is an excerpt from his Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior: Fighting Cancer and Capitalism at the Cellular Level.
“My sax playing is very strong, even stronger than before I entered surgery. After surgery, my diaphragm had to heal before I could play again. But now I play with a lot more power and control. This stems from the breathing exercises I've been doing, but also from the development of my CHI energy. I basically have out grown everything made for the bari sax. There isn't a big enough mouthpiece commercially made for me. I need reeds harder/stronger than the #5, the hardest commercially made. I play the horn now like a double-reed instrument, barely touching the reed with my embouchure. From the power of my breath alone, I can make it vibrate without touching it. My fingers have molded the ivory and brass to fit my hands. I have actually altered metal from years of my touch. It is truly man over metal. I have also discovered some very Daoist revelations:
The point of developing technique is to have NO technique;
The point of practicing and mastery is to develop CHI so that music can change the world (both social and natural);
I want my sound to bring down the walls of Jericho, to be a biblical-like force to crush the walls of poverty, exploitation and oppression;
I want to be as a soloist more powerfully expressive and convicted than a 70-piece professional orchestra; and to improvise as great as a sophisticated, complex notated score;
I want to have a band that is telepathic, taking what is notated on the written page to a higher level of expression beyond what even I as the composer-leader could ever imagine.
The war against cancer has brought about this transformation, revelation and application on my part. I have been tremendously humbled by this war and at the same time learned to fight on a cellular level and to apply a cellular approach to the technical, emotional, creative and spiritual challenges of making music. The cells of one’s sound is what is supreme, infusing one’s breath or CHI-energy to that cellular vibration of making one’s sound a life-force.”
Fifth, and probably the MOST important transformation for me: to never harbor envy, jealously, competitiveness, to speak the truth (even if it is very critical of friends and loved ones, but to do so without comparison and always with compassion), to know that should I die soon, I will be happy and satisfied with what I’ve done, and to spend not an iota of energy of mine worrying or despondent about my condition (tho to take it seriously and fight with all of my being to win the war against cancer), but to devote my energy both in my personal war against cancer, but as a friend to all of you, to make us all better in our journeys as emotional, creative and intellectual beings on this planet.
The death of cancer will only come about when the very conditions of toxicity that give growth to cancer cells have been eliminated. What we are faced with is how systemic the conditions of toxicity are: engendered and enhanced by all the “things” that are accepted as “natural” to capitalist-industrial society (sadly, imitated and not thoroughly challenged or countered by many socialist societies, both present and collapsed). The constantly expanding exposure to many forms of electro-magnetic radiation, the shredding of the natural ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB radiation, the pollutant poisons we dump into the air, earth and bodies of water, the fluorocarbons emitted by refrigerators and carbon-burning cars, the saturation of chemicals in our food, the nutritional degradation of our food, the toxin chemicals that permeate our dry cleaning, shampoos, etc., our overall weakened immune system from nutritional deficiency, over-reliance on chemical vaccines and treatments, and the list goes on and on and on because all of these are manifestations of modern, industrial capitalist existence. It is more profitable to “manage” than to cure/solve. The one basic fundamental of capitalism: it is a system that has created the power to feed, clothe, house everyone and to remake or destroy the world; but at heart of it all, it is a system that creates more problems than it solves.
While my philosophical-political-world view remains what it was prior to getting cancer, the war has taught me important lessons and changed me in profound ways that may never have happened if I didn’t have to face it myself. It is the experience of fighting cancer that has instilled a new imagination in me about how to fight to detoxify and liberate ourselves and the world.
The performance starts at 9:00pm. Admission is free of charge. BAMcafe is located at the Brooklyn Academy of Music at 30 Lafayette Avenue, in downtown Brooklyn.
Fred Ho’s Composers OutFront! performance is made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Meet The Composer Creative Connections program. When the Real Dragons Fly! was commissioned by ACO with the support of the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts.