Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Culture / Music and Theater

Guitar virtuoso prepares to feed China's soul

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

"My teacher was hired by the school so I could continue learning with him and then in my last year of middle school, they set up a proper guitar faculty. I was the first person in the whole of China to have a BA degree majoring in classical guitar."

Visits to Europe convinced Yang that this was where her future lay, and an encounter in Beijing with British guitar virtuoso John Williams pointed the way forward.

"Around 18 I began to have doubts about my future and to question my all-round musicianship," she says. "Then John Williams gave a master class at the Central Conservatoire where I studied, and playing with him gave me so much encouragement. It was like lighting a flame in the darkness of doubt, just when I needed it," she says.

At the age of 23 Yang became the first Chinese student to receive a full postgraduate scholarship to study at London's Royal Academy of Music.

"I learned how to play the guitar in China, but I learned how to be a musician in London," she explains. "The whole of London is such a magnet for elite artists of all kinds, it's hard not to be inspired just by being here.

"Growing up in China in the 1980s, people focused on learning how to play well and prove themselves by winning competitions, rather than by learning how to express themselves, which is what the environment in London gave me. It made me an artist."

The guitar repertoire remains largely Western-dominated, but Yang has done her bit to fly the flag for China, particularly with her 23-track 2020 recording Sketches of China, featuring Chinese music spanning the centuries.

Magna Carta, her latest release, is written by British composer and broadcaster John Brunning, and Yang says his background in playing is what makes him such a good writer.

Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349