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Guitar virtuoso prepares to feed China's soul

By JULIAN SHEA in London | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-07 10:35
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Guitar virtuoso Yang Xuefei says her guitar helps get her through the challenges of lockdown. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Around the world, China is known for its pianists and violinists, who regularly grace the stages of the most prestigious concert halls and compete at the highest level of competition. The country's reputation for guitarists, however, does not have the same international status, but in London-based Yang Xuefei, China has a virtuoso to rate alongside the best from any country.

Since starting playing at the age of 7, after her parents thought learning a musical instrument was the best way to curb her excessive energy, she has gone on to perform in more than 50 countries, at venues including the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

What makes her success all the more interesting is that having steered her toward music, when she decided to take it seriously, Yang's parents were not entirely happy.

"My parents first thought about me playing the accordion, but my school music teacher was starting a guitar group so I joined without even knowing what a guitar was," she says. "When I began to get serious, my parents were against it-the guitar still wasn't seen as a proper instrument in those days, they just wanted me to play it as a hobby.

"I attended my first international guitar festival at the age of 10, where I was surrounded by adults, many from overseas, who said I had real talent, which was where I first got the idea of making a career of it. But none of the conservatoires in China had a guitar faculty then, so I had to attend the middle school attached to the central conservatoire as an unofficial student, and give up my offer of going to a better school which would have put me on the road to a good university and a good career, which my parents didn't like.

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