Simon Au, a parishioner at Holy Apostles, Pimlico, central London, writes:
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I remember myself as a young boy watching my father play the guitar in church and thinking that it was so cool, and so after some persuading, I convinced my father to let the eight-year-old me join him in the Holy Apostles Folk Group. At that time, I think I only knew four guitar chords, and I probably couldn't sing in tune, but practicing and performing for church every week was the perfect environment to really grow as a musician and give something back to the Church. Who would have guessed that over fifteen years later, we would still be here singing in the Folk Group for Mass every Sunday? Though many members have come and gone over the years, I am blessed to have had the opportunity to sing with all of you and hope to do so for many years to come.
I was fortunate in my teenage years that I was able to work hard and obtain a place at Cambridge University to read Engineering. I am currently working as a Software Engineer for McLaren Applied, but I always try to find the time to keep my music going. In recent months I have been working hard on my YouTube channel, releasing a number of cover songs as well as original material.
Growing up in a mixed family with a father from Hong Kong and an English mother has given me an appreciation for both Chinese and Western cultures, and anyone who looks at my YouTube channel will find a number of Chinese cover songs on there. Although I only discovered my love for Chinese pop music later in life after attending university, I quickly found that music is a great way to learn about new cultures and meet new people, as well as being a great tool to learn new languages. In recent years I have been working hard to improve my Chinese and, in the summer of 2019, I actually went to China for five weeks to attend Chinese school. During my time there, I was blessed to be able to stay with a lovely Chinese homestay family who were extremely talented filming and photography. We decided it would be fun to make a music video together as a way of documenting my travels, and so we spent the weekends filming in some of the most beautiful places I've ever been to in and around the city of Guilin, China. The video turned out so beautifully and I couldn't imagine a more perfect souvenir of my time there.
In terms of my own music, so far in 2020 I have released a new song each month. For January, I released a song called Resolutions which is about how bad we are at keeping our new year's resolutions. For February, I released a Valentine's day song called My Valentine, and then for March the most obvious topic was St Patrick's Day, which is also the name of the song. This was a very fun song to write and record because I was able to use elements of traditional Irish music - I had to make sure there was a catchy fiddle hook to make people want to get up and dance, as well as a flute. I also incorporated drum sounds to mimic the sound of a bodhrán (a traditional Irish drum), and even added a section that just has the sound of Irish dancing to add to the Irish vibe. Lyrically, I was inspired by a traditional Irish blessing:
May the road rise to meet you,
may the wind be always at your back,
may the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
I know everyone is going through difficult times at the moment, what with the coronavirus, so I wanted to write a song that would bring a bit of happiness, as well as give people hope that everything is going to be ok. I feel that the Irish blessing really captures that, and I hope that listening to the song might bring a smile to a few people's faces, and maybe even inspire people to get up and dance, even if they can't leave the house for a while.
St Patrick's Day: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0hSsnMSt8k
Visit Simon Au's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCgj_c06kcEB94YvhS2-4RMA
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