Dating the Moon through Music (Essay, 2014) by Yuanchao Bi


This is Yuanchao,

writer and law student at City University of Hong Kong

“Dating the Moon Through Music”

Two weeks ago, days before the approaching Mid-Autumn Festival, the full moon rising above, I go to the CityU Circle and drown myself into the ethereal Chinese Orchestra Concert. The moon (月) possesses various meanings in Chinese culture and enjoys an extraordinary status in the hearts of Chinese. The moon, as well as the orchestra itself, teaches me a vivid lesson of the diversity and spiritual essence underlying the traditional Chinese culture.


Yuanchao (left) with C.G. (right)


City University of Hong Kong Circle (CityU Circle)

The musical ensemble of Erhus strikes me most and engages me into a wonderland where nomads of northern China race horses over the great prairie in the Plateau of Inner-Mongolia. Erhus, nomads, grasslands reveal the diversity and whisper to me. Long ago, the ancient Chinese imported the portable Erhu from nomads and those skillful riders played the violin-like instruments on the backs of horses.

erhus 1


Now at the concert, the young musicians fiddle these bizarre violins, with horse heads and python skins covering eight-sided sound boxes. Deftly and dexterously, the musicians weave the hair of the bow between the strings while their wrists sway like swans twisting their elegant necks. Brisk tunes portray the scene of those minorities racing horses against each other during the celebration.

Mongolia Horse Racing

Horse race, Nadaam festival

The music pulls me into my imagination where I travel over prairies and see young men and ladies riding their horses under the blue, blue sky with white, white clouds, flowing and chasing other clouds like the men chasing their future brides. At times, the riders make their mounts speed up, leaving the girls behind and letting them chase after, and sometimes the men slow to ride side by side. The youths laugh and smile at their beloveds with deep affection, dipped into love and happiness.



Now, having enjoyed the tune, my mind fills with numerous items: Erhu, Inner-Mongolia plateau, prairie, vigorous be-borne riders. I realize my country stands as a nation with diverse cultures for various kinds of civilizations incorporated, just like the one in Mongolia.



Apart from the piece of music performed by the Erhus, other songs in the concert also sound delicate; yet one thing really moves me. And that is the moon. After the performance I go out to the CityU Circle, raising my head and seeing the mostly full moon in the lonely dark dome of the sky above.


In Chinese traditional culture the full moon in Mid-Autumn represents unification and perfection, which means the family, and no matter how far the members travel away from home, will one day come together so that they can be as perfect as the moon. Yet I, an exile staying in this region, distant from my Beijing, cannot get together with the people I love and who love me. I am not full nor am I perfect. Not yet. When I was a child I could not perceive in Chinese civilization why people far from home acted sentimental and missed their families. But now I gradually understand the emotion and meaning inside the moon.


From this experience with the music and moon, I am for the first time aware of my culture and its diversity. As the music fades into memory and I leave the Chinese Orchestra Concert, I recall the famous poet Su Shi, who over a thousand years ago, expressed in an ancient poem, “The moon may be dim or bright, round or crescent shaped. This imperfection has been going on since the beginning of time. May we all be blessed with longevity, though thousands of miles apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.” Eventually, and one day for sure, I will reunite with my family.



Yuanchao (left) with C.G. (right)



Vanity of Vanities by CG Fewston



CG FEWSTON is an American novelist who is a member of AWP, a member of Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world.

CG FEWSTON has travelled across continents and visited such places as Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei and Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and Guilin and Shenzhen and Beijing in China. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

CG FEWSTON earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists, such as Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014).

Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments LiteraryArts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Tendril Literary MagazinePrachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s DrawerMoonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”

You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at &

[ File # csp13641219, License # 2590673 ]Licensed through in accordance with the End User License Agreement ( Can Stock Photo Inc. / andreykuzmin

A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…

Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…

Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…

A_Time_to_Love_in_Tehran gold medal


“Fewston delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”

Kirkus Reviews 

“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”



CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,

A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —

10 years to the day of the publication

of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)


“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary

is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,

as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.

Ending and beginning again,

like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,

like the four seasons.”

found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5


cg and axton 2015







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