Chinese New years Concert 2010

The Music of China is truly one of a kind.  I realise this only after I have lived away from China. Those who are not familiar with it will have a feeling for the music, something very special that touches heart and soul. It is hard to believe that these pieces are played on a five-tone scale rather than the eight-tone scale of Western music. – Written for the programme in 2010

I remember once, just after finishing a show in the Nottingham Albert Hall, a 60 year old western gentleman was still sitting in his chair, not moving. Venue staff approached him to ask if he was ok, he looked up with tears on his face and cried out: ‘Absolutely beautiful, I have never even heard such beautiful music before…’


Chinese music can be dated back 5000 years, which is much earlier than western music; the Chinese influence spread to Japanese musical tradition and, to some extent, to that of India.

You will be amazed to see that a number of instruments introduced in the concert today are over a thousand years old. The guzheng, ancient zither (before 206 BC) is the forerunner of the Japanese koto, Korean kayagum, Mongolian vatag, and Vietnamese dan tranh. The pipa, invented 2500 year ago, before the Great Wall of China, reached its maturity during the Chinese Renaissance Tang Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The pipa looks like a guitar, making the sounds ‘pi, pa’ like raindrops or, as once described by a Chinese poet, ‘pearls falling into a Jade plate’. The erhu first appeared 1104 AD, sounding a bit like violin but with a nasal tone capable of expressing the sentimentality of a melody, and it increasingly appears in modern concert.

When these unique instruments are played with techniques and skills developed for thousands years, combined with mastery composition, the music produced becomes truly something remarkable to all music lovers and cultured minds.

Dong Qiu-ming (R1) (from Shanghai Conservatory of Music); Zhu Xiao-meng(Middle) (from Shanghai Conservatory of Music);Chen Da-can (R2) (from Shanghai Conservatory of Music); Wang Wei-ping (L2) (from Xian Conservatory of Music); Zhou Jin-yan (L) (from China Folk Conservatory of Music)

Chinese music also represents many characteristics of Chinese culture. In style it is similar to Chinese expressive tonality language, Chinese artistic calligraphy, Chinese subtle connoted poetry, and Chinese abstract brush painting. Somehow, these art forms come from observations of what is simply life, but are sublimated into aesthetical works.


BBC reviewReview by Kyra SomerfieldMail Out Chinese Concert