Sisyphe bookstore is a cool vibrant bookstore in downtown Chongqing. There are lots of mostly young people hanging out there browsing for books and working at the many study areas available. Reminded me a bit of the ill fated Borders Bookshop.
Sisyphe describes itself as a humanities books holding “cultural spiritual ideals”. The name comes from Sisyphus of Greek Mythology who was punished for his deceitfulness and had to push a boulder uphill forever. The bookstore took this pushing as freedom of choice and eternal meaning. I’m not so sure about that interpretation myself, that aside the bookstore was a very hip and happening place.
They held regular events that were mainly lectures. I attended one before doing my own and they were talking about Kew Gardens in London the audience listening attentively. When my time came I talked a little of my various ensembles then played excerpts from Peacock Angell, Surge Saxophones and Surge Big Band moving from the accessible to the pure noise. Then we had questions which were all very deep. I had sort of expected things like “What sort of music will you compose in Chongqing?” etc but instead I got “Does your music aim for the heavens?”, “What instrument represents our city?” and “How do musicians of different styles bond together?”. There was no shortage of questions either compared to those awkward lectures that when the talker is finished a room of bored faces have nothing to say. I did my best to answer intelligently.
In the second half I sang a few songs and got into more comfortable territory of creating a piece of music with everyone there despite having only four instruments amongst about 100 people. The musicians laid a groove whilst everyone else made vocal noises, shuffled feet, clapped hands and engaged their mobile phones on cue. A brave solo singer volunteered and within 15 minutes we had a piece. A bit of fun and short dissemination of the sort of creativity I believe Britain excels in.