Tag Archives: China

Artist Profiles: Lunlun Zou

Lunlun Zou

Lunlun Zou is a guzheng virtuoso, renowned for her graceful and effortless style. She has performed at some of the world’s most respected concert halls and opera houses. Lunlun devotes most of her time to concert performances and to teaching young talent, passing on the rich heritage of guzheng art. Over the many years Lunlun has been playing guzheng, she has developed a style of her own.

Lunlun was born in a family with a long tradition of guzheng virtuosity. She started studying guzheng at age 7. While other children were playing with their friends and toys, Lunlun’s best friend was her guzheng. Lunlun studied at the Shenyang Conservatory of Music, where she was taught by Masters Zhao Yuzhai, Cao Zheng, Lu Diansheng and Zhang Jinxia. Many years later, she graduated from the Conservatory with highest honors.

Lunlun has been performing since a very young age and often took part in competitions of Chinese traditional music. She won many prizes and awards. She regularly tours through major cities in China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, USA, records for radio and television and often performs to benefit the poor and unfortunate.

After graduating from university in 1991, she was appointed as solo guzheng player in the Liaoning Dance Troup. In 1995, she moved to New Zealand and was invited to perform at the New Zealand National Museum, New Zealand-Sino Friendship Association, “Orient Express Radio”, “Page 90” Gallery of Porirua, and the Genghis Khan Cultural Heritage Exhibition. In 1997, she was invited by the New Zealand’s Governor General to perform for the opening ceremony of the “Asian Arts Festival” at the Government House. In 1999, Lunlun performed for Jiang Zemin during his visit in Sydney.

Lunlun’s interest in music is not limited to Chinese and Asian music. She also enjoys listening to Western classical music and has traveled to Vienna, Frankfurt and Prague to study opera and classical music from the most renowned performers, conductors and conservatory professors. Lunlun has deep appreciation for ancient folk music of other world cultures and often includes their music in her concerts.

Because of her love for music, Lunlun strives passionately to promote rich Chinese and Asian cultural heritage inside and outside China.

She currently performs and teaches in Hong Kong.

Discography:

Spring Hope (Art Tune Recording Company)
The Treasury of Zheng Music (2006)
Songs From the Imperial Palace (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Liu Fang

Liu Fang at WOMEX – Photo by Angel Romero

Born in Kunming (China) in 1974, Liu Fang started learning the pipa (Chinese lute) at the age of 6 and soon began to perform in public as a child prodigy, including a performance for the Queen of England. She graduated from Shanghai Conservatory where she also learnt to play the guzheng.

Since she moved to Montreal in 1996, Liu Fang has toured all over the world, building a remarkable artistic profile by captivating audiences and critics with her masterful, rich and deeply-spirited pipa and guzheng playing, as well as for her wide ranging repertoire. She possesses a virtuoso’s technique and a unique empathy toward the music she plays – whether it is a traditional folk tune or a modern Western composition. Among the numerous solo recitals, concertos and concerts with quartets and ensembles, Liu Fang has premiered new compositions by the celebrated Canadian composers R. Murray Schafer, Melissa Hui and Hugues Leclair. She often appears on radio and TV nationally and internationally, and has produced three pipa solo CDs and several other albums collaborating with artists of various traditions where she plays both pipa and guzheng. Liu Fang has been awarded several grants by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec (CALQ).

Liu Fang

In June 2001 she was awarded the prestigious Millennium Prize for Future Generations by the Canada Council for the Arts. The present CD is her first guzheng solo album. Since guzheng is her second instrument, and due to her modest nature, she was quite reluctant to produce a solo guzheng album although her playing has been loved by her audience. Upon the request of so many music lovers, Liu Fang finally made the decision to produce one.

Her album Silk Sound – Le Son de Soie produced by Accords Croises in Paris has honored her with the prestigious L’Academie Charles Cros Award, the French equivalent of the Grammy Awards. This is another prestigious prize since she received the Millennium Prize for Future Generations awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts in 2001.

Discography:

Chinese Traditional Pipa Music (Oliver Sudden Productions, 1997)
The soul of pipa, vol. 1: Chinese Pipa Music from the classical tradition (Philmultic, 2001)
The soul of pipa, vol. 2: Chinese classical Pipa Music, from the ancient to the recent (Philmultic, 2003)
Emerging Lotus: Chinese traditional guzheng music (Philmultic, 2005)
The soul of pipa, vol. 3: Pipa Music from Chinese folk traditions (Philmultic, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Lingling Yu

Lingling Yu

Lingling Yu was born in the south-western part of China, near Shanghai, beautiful city Hangzhou, starting point Silk Road. She took up music at age eight. Lingling studied violin, erhu and pipa performed concerts.

At the age of fourteen she devoted herself to the pipa and was awarded first prize in the entrance exam of the China Central Conservatory. A child prodigy, she was the subject of a documentary that was part of the “Small Music Genius” cycle, as well as various other TV and press reports. She then entered the China National Conservatory. At the age of twenty-two she obtained her bachelor’s degree in literature. In 1988 she won the national competition of Chinese traditional music in Beijing. She was officially appointed professor at Qing Hua University, where she taught until 1997.

Together with her master Liu Dehai, a famous composer who performed compositions for pipa and orchestra under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, she traveled throughout China with her favorite instrument, teaching and giving public performances. Ms. Yu and Liu Dehai exerted a great influence on the evolution of music for pipa. She stayed in the Philippines where she taught and played concerts in various cities.

She studied with other famous pipa musicians such as Luo Jieli, Wang Fandi and Sun Weixi who gave Lingling Yu the opportunity to broaden her knowledge, enrich repertoire a great variety of styles, allowed find own way, giving free range personality. performing style is clear, bright, warm creative, characterized by subtle balance brightness delicacy, emotion serenity, blending two principles Chinese philosophy: yin yang. Lingling Yu and her master are linking points between western eastern music.

She settled in Switzerland 1998 to carry on with this research. has been studying composition Jean Balissat at the Lausanne Conservatory. regularly gives concerts of Chinese classical music all regions other European countries. Also gave radio concerts (Swiss-German radio, Swiss-French, France) TV.

In 1999 she released her first CD of solo music for pipa, “The Swan” in Switzerland. Since October 2000 she studies composition at the conservatory of Geneva and she also plays Chinese-Western contemporary music. Ms. Yu also practices the traditional martial arts Tai Ji Quan and Mei Hua Zhuang, based on the Taoist Yin Yang theory.

Discography

Tian E (Amori, 1999)

Xu Lai (Felmay, 2009)

Yue Luo (Felmay, 2011)

The Musical Voyages of Marco Polo (World Village, 2013)

Meng Yuan (2017)

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Artist Profiles: Li Xiangting

Li Xiangting

Li Xiangting was born in 1940 in Liaoyuan, China.

Li Xiangting is a world-class guqin (Chinese 7 string zither) and xiao (Chinese vertical bamboo flute) master. He is currently a distinguished professor of guqin at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, vice-president of the China Guqin Committee and the Beijing Guqin Research Association, and senior consultant to the North American Guqin Association.

Professor Li is renowned not only for his individual style of guqin music but also for his refined traditional scholarly skills in xiao flute playing, calligraphy, ink-painting and poetry.

Born in Liaoyuan, northeast China, he graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1963 and studied with influential master Zha Fuxi. He studied painting with distinguished masters Pan Su and Pu Xuezhai.

Between 1989 and 1994 he accepted fellowships at the universities of Cambridge and London and has traveled extensively throughout the world for both his guqin performances and his other scholarly activities.

Besides performing in China, Li Xiangting has also staged recitals in many countries in Europe and Asia as well as the USA. He has also recorded and arranged solo guqin music for a number of films and television dramas, including “The Emperor’s Shadow”, “The Confidante” and “Zhuge Liang”. He has also lectured at various universities.

The recital he held in 1982 at the Oriental Music Festival in England was the first of its kind in the history of the guqin. In August 2003, he was selected as the only Chinese music performer at the International Edinburgh Festival. Professor Li?s prolific publications range from several dozen research articles, poems and books through to music CDs and exhibitions of his calligraphy and ink-paintings.

He has published more than a dozen guqin recordings. He released his first guqin instructional video CD in 2000. In November 1994, he received the “Outstanding Ethnic Writers and Painters Award” granted by the Chinese Artists’ Association and the Chinese Authors’ Association.

His guqin album ” the Glow of Sunset and Flowing Water” won the Golden Tripod Award in Taipei. In 2002, a special program about his guqin improvisations by the China National Radio Station won the Best Production Award at the Shanghai International Music Festival. One of his main contributions to the art of the guqin is his exploration of contemporary works such as improvisation, East-West collaboration and creative compositions for the guqin.

His guqin album the Glow of Sunset and Flowing Water won the Golden Tripod Award in Taipei. In 2002, the special program about his guqin improvisation by the China National Radio Station won the Best Production Award at the Shanghai International Music Festival.

Discography:

China: The Art of the Qin – Chine: L’Art Du Qin (Ocora, 1990)
Soul of China (Manu Music Productions, 1994)
Tao of Healing ‎(Soundings Of The Planet, 2000)
Sleeping Lotus ‎(Real Music, 2005)
Music of the Song Dynasty (Marco Polo, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Lei Qiang

Lei Qiang

Lei Qiang is a master player of the erhu. Born in 1960 in Shaanxi province in the People’s Republic of China, Lei began to play the erhu in 1975.

After studying at the prestigious Xian Conservatory of Music, he toured with the Shaanxi Provincial Song and Dance Troupe for 11 years across Asia.

In 1993, Lei settled in Canada, where he has recorded with several renowned musical acts, including Cirque du Soleil. Lei has also performed at numerous music festivals and cultural events throughout North America.

Discography:

Chinese Traditional Erhu Music 1 (Oliver Sudden Productions)
Chinese Traditional Erhu Music 2 (Oliver Sudden Productions)

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Artist Profiles: Jia Peng Fang

Jia Peng Fang

Jia Peng Fang was born April 1958 in Jiamusi, China. He is a virtuoso of the erhu (Chinese fiddle), and has played in hundreds of live concerts throughout China and Japan, as well as recording for movies, television and radio. He has also performed in the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York, and in Carnegie Hall, playing with the Tokyo Pops Orchestra and New York Pops Orchestra.

In 1988, Jia moved to Japan and enrolled in the Master of Arts Degree Program in Music at the Tokyo University of Arts.

Jia Peng Fang teaches erhu, composes soundtracks and continues to perform.

Discography:

River (Pacific Moon, 1998)
Rainbow (Pacific Moon, 1999)
Faraway (Pacific Moon, 2001)
Sho (Pacific Moon, 2006)
Moonlight (Pacific Moon, 2006)
Nocturne (2007)
Jia Peng Fang: Best (Pacific Moon, 2007)
Tomorrow (Pacific Moon, 2010)
Seasons: Jia Peng Fang Plays Haruki Mino (Pacific Moon, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Hong Ting

Hong Ting

Hong Ting is a talented and versatile musician with extensive training in performance, theory, composition and improvisation. She started playing the piano at age six and later studied the zheng under master educators Prof. He Baoquan and Prof. Sun Wenyan, who exposed her to the traditional techniques and styles of the various zheng schools. Her refreshing yet refined interpretations of the songs and unique understanding of the zheng are appreciated by audiences worldwide.

Hong has performed in Canada, the United States, China and Germany, and has collaborated with renowned musicians as well as artists of other mediums from around the world. She has been invited to play solo/duet in feature concerts at various festivals, art shows and special events, and has repeatedly performed at the University of Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Music Gallery.

Hong has composed music for various projects, including A Song Cycle for the piano, violin, zheng and voice, commissioned by the John Hendrix Memorial Fund; Snow, a solo dance piece; and the soundtrack for the play Mother Tongue, which received a nomination for Outstanding Sound Design/Composition at the 23rd Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Toronto in 2002.

Discography:

Chinese Traditional Zheng Music ‎(Oliver Sudden Productions, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Guo Yue

Guo Yue

Guo Yue is a world-renowned virtuoso of the Chinese bamboo flute. As a child Guo Yue learned how to put not just his breath but his whole body into his playing ? creating curvaceous notes that blend and swoop to form an astonishingly gentle and beautiful sound.

Guo Yue was born in Beijing in 1958, the year of Mao’s Great Leap Forward. His name is a revolutionary one: Guo meaning Kingdom, Yue meaning Leap Forward. His family lived in a traditional courtyard in the maze of old alleys known as the Hutongs, between the beautiful Drum and Bell Towers and the river where he played as a child. His courtyard housed the families of five traditional musicians, mostly from the countryside. From these musicians who (unlike his father) had received no formal musical training, he learned how to put not just his breath but his whole body into playing the flute. Yue now plays 15 different bamboo flutes.

Western music sounded “sophisticated” to Yue. “There are many more notes. I couldn’t relate to it at first. It was not part of my world. I loved the natural simplicity of Chinese music, which is based on a small collection of notes, like the ingredients in Chinese cooking. Western music was banned at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, together with literature, poetry, romantic love, even the flying of kites. Gradually I began to long for that other world, to hear freedom in the sound of Western strings.”

In the West, Chinese music is associated with the stylized, high-pitched sounds of Peking Opera. But Yue’s music is different. Most of it comes from bamboo flutes whose breathy, curvaceous voices bend and swoop, sometimes almost purring, poignantly conveying yearning, loss, parting, anticipation and joy. It may seem strange to use the words benign and contemplative when describing an instrument?s voice. The only comparable emotion in a Western instrument comes from the naive, endearing double bass and sometimes the bassoon.

The silver flute, although I love its sound, is more restricted for me, more mathematical,” says Yue. “I can’t bend its cool notes to express feeling as I can on my bamboo flutes. As my mother said: ‘Bamboo is like the Eastern character; it can suffer so much, but it is not broken because it can bend.’ My bamboo flutes are like wild birds. If you play the music that comes naturally to them, then they will sing. I think my music is like the new branch of a very ancient tree.”

Yue also uses the erhu, a traditional two-stringed violin whose bow is woven permanently between the two strings. The erhu has a haunting, almost pleading voice which is intensely moving. This was the instrument Yue?s father played; he was a professional musician and died when Yue was five years old.

In 1982 Yue left China and, with the help of his third sister Yan who was living in England, he studied the silver flute at the Guildhall School of Music.

Since living in England, he has composed, arranged, performed and recorded traditional Chinese music. In I990 with his brother Guo Yi, who plays the sheng (an ancient hand-held bamboo wind instrument), they made a Real World album called Yuan, which also features the voice of his second sister Xuan. As the Guo Brothers, they performed at international festivals and concerts, including WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festivals worldwide.

Not wanting to be confined to traditional Chinese music, since 1990 Yue has worked as a soloist, writing his own music. He has collaborated with musicians and composers from Africa, Italy and Japan. In 1992 he made the album Trisan (Real World) with Joji Hirota, the Japanese Taiko drummer, and the Irish singer/composer Pol Brennan; this won an American instrumental award. Then in 1995 Yue and Joji recorded the album Red Ribbon.

In 1999 Yue performed his bamboo flutes concerto My Peking Alley with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the WOMAD Festival in Reading.

Yue has also worked on the soundtracks of several international films, including Bertolluci’s Oscar-winning The Last Emperor and The Killing Fields. He also played the soundtrack theme, composed by George Fenton, for the Emmy award-winning Channel Four television documentary Beyond the Clouds which was directed by Phil Agland who commented: ‘In the magical hands of Guo Yue, the bawu flute creates sounds that haunt the soul‘.

Discography:

Yuan (Real World, 1990)
Trisan (Real World, 1993)
Red Ribbon (Riverboat Records, 1994)
Our Homeland: Traditional Chinese Music (Bamboo Mountain, 1995)
Touching The Water ‎(Dureco, 1996)
Music, Food and Love (Real World, 2006)

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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.

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