Artist Profiles: He-Cheng Liu

Beijing native He-Cheng Liu has been a musician for over 30 years. Liu is a pipa (lute) and gu-qin (ancient zither) virtuoso of remarkable experience. A member of the prestigious National Traditional Orchestra of China since 1984, Liu has toured all over the world, performing and teaching from Vienna and Denmark to Singapore and Taiwan.

Earmarked for music at age 10, Liu was one of the few kids chosen by the Chinese government for conservatory training at the Madame Jiang Ching’s May 7th Cultural Arts University in Beijing. It was 1972, a time when all of China’s arts and cultural activities, except for the Beijing Opera, were suspended due to the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). In those days, Madame Jiang Ching still loved Chinese literature and film, and wanted to preserve something on a national scale.

Liu studied for 12 years under the influential pipa master Li Guang Hua, who taught only four students in his life. The pipa is an ancient, four-stringed Chinese lute instrument popular throughout Chinese history and culture, from courtly entertainment and accompaniment to modern orchestral solo and ensemble recitals.

During college, he was allowed to choose a second specialty, the gu-qin, which he soon mastered as well. Liu He Cheng plays both the pipa and his secondary instrument, the gu-qin, the most ancient instrument from China played by even fewer musicians today.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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