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Newsletter: 2021 August

TCG August greetings stones

“Our cultural strength has always been derived from our diversity of understanding and experience.”

- Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist, humanitarian, 1955-

There are several religious celebrations this August. Two neighbouring ASEAN countries will also celebrate their National Days this month, Singapore on the 9th and Malaysia on the 31st.

On the eve of the 9th, Muslims worldwide will mark the New Islamic Year 1443 Hijr at the beginning of the sacred month of Muharram. And Catholics will observe the feast day of the Assumption of Mary on the 15th. On the 22nd, Taoists and Buddhists amongst the Chinese community will make major offerings on the Hungry Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan 中元节 or Yulanpen 盂兰盆节). Many will follow the tradition to observe the 7th lunar month’s “Dos” and “Don’ts,” such as no weddings, no swimming, or avoid late-night outings, etc., for thirty days (8th August to 6th September.) Towards the end of August, on the 30th, our Hindu friends will celebrate their God of Protection, Compassion, Tenderness, and Love, Lord Krishna’s birthday.

There are so many events in August. Each, waiting for us to discover, is a chapter in our human history.

May the wondrous night sky of shooting stars bring you marvels this August!

Ghibli Museum

A Journey A Month…

Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.


Thanks to live-streaming, I had the opportunity to watch Joe Hisaishi’s (久石譲) World Dream concert in Tokyo. Hisaishi is a Japanese composer and musical director known for his works with his friend, Hayao Miyazaki’s (宮崎駿) on Studio Ghibli’s animated films (e.g., Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, etc.) To many, Hisaishi is a modern-day legend.

I enjoy symphony (philharmonic) orchestras. Watching as many as eighty, and sometimes over a hundred musicians playing different instruments helps me escape the hassle and bustle of everyday life. It relaxes me.

The limelight and focus of a philharmonic orchestra are always on the string section, with the 1st, the 2nd violins, viola, cello, and double bass. Depending on the musical composition, sometimes the woodwinds, the brass or the piano, and perhaps the harp may play some key partitions. Least noticed often are the percussion instruments, yes, the section all the way at the back of the orchestra.

shaker -percussion

At Hisaishi’s concert, thanks to the moving cameras, I discovered the magical sound of a percussion instrument (the “shaker.”) Listening and watching the musician played, I realised it was not as easy as I thought. It must be the right pitch at the right tempo for that little percussion instrument to strike a perfect harmony and add its charm to the rest of the orchestra.

For concert-goers, every concert is a different experience. With the help of camera zooming technology at the live-stream concert, I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation of how each instrument sounds and how they can all play together to perform an incredible masterpiece.

If “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)” has an Oscar, composers of symphonies and conductors of orchestras will surely be on the list. They are the ones who set the tempo, determine the correct entries of the instruments, bringing out the best of each while ensuring the instruments play in unison for the whole ensemble. For a world-class conductor, that skill is an art of technicality, heart, and soul. It is DEI leadership at its peak.

World Dream Orchestra

And, if you are not a concert but a sports enthusiast, I am sure you can find similar lessons on a soccer or any team sports field. A good captain unites the team, leverages each member’s strength, and helps members to cover the weakness of one another. Watching the game closely, we will see it is not just how the leader connects with each member, but how he or she helps every member connect with one another. Besides having an enjoyable event, there sure are valuable lessons we can pick up from these super DEI heroes.

Bonus for this month

Did you know there are hundreds of percussion instruments? Watch this 5-mins clip of a light-hearted musical performance. Whether you are a member of a cross-cultural team or you are managing one, it will surely put a smile on your face after a hard day at work (please watch it till the end, the fun part only begins at ~ 1:45): Classical Boomwhacker by the Drummit with the Monkey.

The world is fascinating simply because differences exist!

Join us to spread the words, share the vision, and do our parts.

At TransCultural Group (TCG), we are determined to play our part in making the world a better place. We have launched an e-book for Youth. A book recounting the enchanting adventures of two children from China into the world of an old French family as they explore their cross-cultural friendship. Please click here to find out more. Come support us!

Crossing Cultures – Beyond Boundaries

Secret Garden of N

Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO
TransCultural Group