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Conservatory Focuses on Folk Songs
The Chaozhou Folk Music Concert on Thursday will be the third to the last concert of the Fifth Beijing Music Festival. However, the concert will mark the beginning of an important project by the China Conservatory of Music.

Presided by Liu Dehai, a master of the pipa, a four-stringed plucked instrument, and professor at the China Conservatory of Music, the Project One is aimed at preserving traditional Chinese folk music.

The goal of Project One is to study one type of traditional Chinese folk music every year, building a "gene library" of traditional Chinese folk music and an education system for teaching traditional Chinese folk music. The goals will aid in the development of performance, composition and theoretical research of traditional Chinese folk music.

Liu said he initiated the project because he saw shortcomings among his students. His students were quick at learning and mastered all the skills of pipa very fast. Technically they were perfect, but they lacked the knowledge and grace a good traditional folk music performer has, he said.

"When I watched a performance of Chaozhou folk music I was deeply touched by the simplicity and humanistic spirit of Chaozhou music extended by the performers, which was something our students lack," said Liu.

Chaozhou is the general term used for traditional folk music in the Chaozhou and Shantou area in Guangdong Province in South China. Its main instruments include the di (Chinese flute), pipa, sanxian (a three-stringed plucked instrument) and small gongs.

In February, some students and teachers at the China Conservatory of Music went to Chaozhou to study the music with local musicians for the upcoming concert at the Beijing Music Festival.

"This concert will not only add to the Chinese characteristics of the Beijing Music Festival, but also show the direction of the China Conservatory of Music," said Li Xi'an, a renowned professor at the conservatory.

As part of the festival, the Nanyin Ensemble of Quanzhou in Fujian Province gave a performance of nanyin, the traditional folk music of southern Fujian Province, at the China Conservatory of Music on Sunday.

After the performance, Liu, also the director of the Instrumental Department at the conservatory, announced that next year would be the Year of Nanyin at the China Conservatory of Music as the second step of Project One.

(China Daily October 30, 2002)

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