Young Player Shows Guzheng Skill

The music that flows from Ji Wei's guzheng -- a traditional Chinese plucked instrument -- is emotional and delicate, as the audience will discover at the 22-year-old's concert at the Forbidden City Concert Hall tonight.

Ji, who first picked up the guzheng when she was only 5 years old, was fortunate to have received training in playing the instrument during her childhood from two veteran guzheng players, Liu Qiaojun and Qiu Dacheng, in her hometown in Hebei Province. They found her to be talented and initiated her early studies on the traditional Chinese instrument.

Under their direction, Ji soon became an outstanding guzheng player. At the age of 9, Ji was recognized as one of the "Top Ten Children Players of Traditional Chinese Instruments," and a year later she won first prize at a national competition for children playing instruments.

In 1992, she was admitted to the middle school attached to the China Conservatory of Music and Wang Zhongshan, one of the best-known guzheng musicians, was her teacher.

After graduation, she was recommended for admission to the China Conservatory of Music and continued her training with Wang.

"Although she remained taciturn, gentle and meek in my classes, her fascination with the guzheng sparkled in her eyes and always impressed me deeply," said Wang.

"She was one of my most diligent students. Whenever I went to the training room on Sunday, I could see her thoroughly engrossed in playing," said Wang about his favorite protege.

"It is really difficult for young people like Ji to devote time to traditional music and resist all kinds of temptations from a bustling society," Wang added.

According to Ji, playing the guzheng is the perfect way to express her feelings, although she never feels satisfied with what she has achieved.

"Though many teachers have said that as a young player my skill is remarkable, I still have things to learn," she said. "Technique is important but it is not everything. A good player should establish her own style. I have had several experienced teachers, but simply imitating them is not enough."

The repertoire for tonight's concert has been selected by Ji and her teacher. It will include various styles of playing the guzheng.

"Ji's playing could be passionate, as in the style of central China's Henan Province, gorgeous as in the style of east China's Shandong Province and mild and delicate as in the style of south China's Fujian Province," Wang said.

The five solo pieces in the first part of the concert all demand superb playing skills. The second part of the program includes two concertos -- "Funeral Oration for Xuemei" and "Eternal Remorse of Lin'an" -- played with the China Film Symphony Orchestra under the baton of composer He Zhanhao.

Famous worldwide for his violin concerto "Butterfly Lovers," professor He, along with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, has composed a number of traditional Chinese music pieces in the past four decades.

Heroic and powerful, He's "Eternal Remorse for Lin'an" chronicles the historical story describing how Yue Fei, the patriotic military commander, led his troops to fight against Jin invaders in the early period of the Southern Song Dynasty.

The "Funeral Oration for Xuemei" composed by Wang and orchestrated by He is a soft and melancholic love story entangled with love and hate, life and death.

(China Daily June 14, 2002)

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