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A picture of Gene Hsu
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Bridging the gap between the West and the East through music– Gene Hsu

Written by Gene Hsu

I am an alumnus of ISH in 2021-22 and obtained my MA in Translation at London Metropolitan University in 2022. I am a singer-songwriter, independent researcher, and interpreter and translator based in London, UK.

In 2021, I received the London Met and ISH International Students Scholarship and embarked on a  new adventure at 229 Great Portland Street, which became like my big UK family. I have been grateful for obtaining this scholarship to study in London, UK. Living at ISH made me feel at home and it was enjoyable. ISH felt  more like a home than an international student accommodation. I also love the people there. In February 2022, I proposed and organised an event at ISH – the Lantern Festival Special Food. I invited ISH residents to enjoy the special food for the Lantern Festival, a traditional Chinese festival on the 15th of January in the lunar calendar. All in all, I have been grateful and enjoyed living at ISH. It is such an international, diverse and cosy place to live. I still remember one of the activities I loved most was Thursday’s Karaoke as I love singing. Even now, I have still been in touch with some friends who I first met at ISH.

A group of ISH residents at the Lantern Festival.
I loved being able to host the lantern Festival to promote my culture.

I have been doing research in ethnomusicology, music and language/translation. I think it is quite essential to explore the role of music in bridging the gap between cultures and languages. I have presented my papers at academic conferences in the UK and overseas. One of them was at the London Met Student & Staff Research Conference in July 2023. I focus on translation and interpretation such as translating songs, musicals, literature and poetry. In the meantime, I also make my research practical: I perform songs I translated or rewrote. It is relevant to the significance of traditional Chinese language and culture, and to share good East Asian songs to the West through my song translation and covers.

I try to use research and performance to draw attention to the significance of song translation, traditional and/or classical languages in intercultural communication, and distinguish good traditions from distorted ones.

I think it is very significant to shed light on the significance of traditional Chinese because it bears historical, moral, cultural, and more important, original meanings of each character while the simplified is not only “simplified”, but merged, replaced or removed. So, the simplified has lost its roots. I think people should have the right to learn, reserve and use their original language(s) and words that are the cornerstone of their own culture and history. Furthermore, the culture or civilization makes each one of us who we are.

Gene Hsu with other residents at the ISH Christmas Party
I found a community of friends from around the world at ISH.

I have also presented my paper at several conferences in the UK and other countries. Most recently, in April and June 2024, I presented my new paper (rendering an ancient Chinese poem into an English song) at two conferences in the U.S. and the UK, respectively. More recently, my article was published in “The Linguist” in June 2024. My research article title: Make It Sing? Gene Hsu considers approaches to song translation and proposes a comprehensive way to discuss the process. The article is featured on the cover of the journal (pages 11-13, Vol 63, No. 2, Summer 2024, The Linguist).

I am very glad that my research and work have drawn the media’s attention. I was interviewed by The Epoch Times, a major media group based in NYC, U.S. in June after my article was published in early June. Here you can find the news report on Connecting East and West With Meaning and Melody: Singer-Translator Gene Hsu. Here is my social media where you can find more information about my research and singing performances: LinkedIn, Singing, Research.

All in all, my research and work aim to contribute to the interdisciplinary studies in translation and music, bridge the gap between Western and Eastern cultures, enhance mutual understandings and do my bit for the unity and peace of the world. I will keep it up!!

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