Girls on top

01 Mar 2004|Christoper Ireland

I noted earlier this week that I was attending TED, a conference built around Technology, Entertainment and Design. The event was started in the early 90’s by Richard Saul Wurman–a man who knew how to host a conference, but who apparently didn’t know how to find talented women to speak at one. Every year, I’d look at the list of speakers and count the number of women on one hand (and usually at least 3 were singers).

One year, a brave soul in the audience asked Wurman why he showcased so few women. He replied that there were none talented enough for this particular conference. I’ve remembered that statement for years, so it was with profound satisfaction that I watched at least a dozen excellent presentations by females, and in particular, one performance by a 14 year old girl. Her name is Jennifer Lin and she is a creative genius capable of bringing a roomful of CEOs, VCs and wild inventors to tears.

Jennifer is a pianist, who first played a couple of difficult pieces that caught our attention and made us think “this girl can play.” But, what stole our hearts was her improvisation. Using 5 notes randomly selected on stage, Jennifer sat at the piano and said, “I’ll see if I can make something of this.” What followed was one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, a hauntingly romantic, extraordinarily elegant piece of music that lingered in my mind for the remainder of the conference.

I’m searching the web hoping that someone captured the song and will make it available for download. In the meatime, there are a couple blogs of TED that do a good job of relating the conference highlighs. Check out my friend Steve’s, or Red Herrings (req’s painless registration).

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