Chinese student plays erhu on the street of Milan

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-21 15:57
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Zheng Xiaohui plays erhu on the street of Milan, Italy. [Screenshot from CCTV News]

Zheng Xiaohui, a Chinese student in Milan, Italy, has performed dozens of erhu performances on the street, spreading traditional Chinese culture to the world, CCTV News reported.

Zheng hails from Shandong province and arrived in Italy in 2021. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Architecture at Politecnico di Milano in Milan.

She has been playing erhu since she was 9, winning prizes in multiple national music competitions.

The prizes Zheng Xiaohui won from various national music competitions. [Photo/CCTV News]

Since April 2023, Zheng has been performing on the street during her leisure time, and currently does three or four shows a month.

She meticulously prepares for every erhu performance, wearing delicate makeup, dressing in Chinese hanfu, and tuning her musical equipment for optimal play. When selecting her repertoire, she emphasizes diversity, encompassing not only traditional Chinese folk music such as "Horse Racing", but also recomposed sections from popular music and famous Italian music.

Her beautiful music consistently captivates many pedestrians on the street. They would stop to listen and applaud, displaying a significant interest in the erhu she plays. Some of them said that it was their first time encountering such a wonderful musical instrument.

Zheng initially did not plan to perform on the street, but her mindset changed in the previous year after watching a video of a violinist's street performance.

Recalling her first street performance, she was nervous at the time, but the enthusiastic response from the audience promptly cheered her up.

"When I played 'Goodbye, my friend', the crowd began to grow and a grandfather started to dance. Many in the audience followed him, even I could not help swinging along with them," Zheng said. "Another interesting experience occurred when I was performing 'Lanting Xu' — an Italian aunt engaged in Tai Chi to the music."

An Italian aunt engages in Tai Chi to the music "Lanting Xu" performed by Zheng Xiaohui in Milan, Italy. [Screenshot from CCTV News]

After performing a few times, Zheng began recording and posting videos of her street performance on the internet, attempting to showcase the charm of Chinese erhu to the world. Gradually, these videos become viral online.

"I believe that Chinese music has built a bridge for cultural communication," she said.

In order to innovate her performance content and better show the charm of Chinese traditional folk music, Zheng collaborates with other musicians, incorporating instruments such as pipa, cello, and saxophone alongside the erhu. During the Chinese National Day of 2023, she played "My Homeland" with her classmate in front of various landmarks in Milan.

Zheng Xiaohui (Left) and her classmate play "My Homeland" in front of various landmarks during the Chinese National Day of 2023 in Milan, Italy. [Screenshot from CCTV News]

Zheng is currently occupied with finishing her graduation project. Despite the high academic pressure, her love of music remains strong. She even specially prepared and performed two pieces, "Spring Festival Overture" and "Jubilant", during the Spring Festival.

Talking about the future, Zheng looks forward to it, and said that whatever she does and wherever she lives, she will bring her erhu with her.

"I hope to organize my own special concert in the future to enable more people to learn about Chinese folk music," She added.

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