From street to TV gala: Love for music and life leads worker to bigger stage

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-25 10:11
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Yi Qunlin (middle) receives an invitation to take part in the 2024 CCTV Spring Festival Gala for the Year of the Dragon. [Photo/Xinhua Daily Telegraph]

Yi Qunlin, a 58-year-old construction worker who went viral after a video showcasing his piano performance on the street was posted online has received an invitation to the CCTV Spring Festival Gala — the most-watched TV show in the country — and has come to the notice of his idol pianist Lang Lang, CCTV News reported.

Yi, who comes from Yueyang, Hunan province, has worked in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, for about 20 years. In the summer of 2023, he became an internet sensation after his son posted a video in which he performs more than 10 songs on a public piano set up around Huaqiangbei, one of the world's largest electronics markets in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

"At first, I was worried about being looked down upon, as I was a migrant worker wearing dirty clothes," Yi recalled. However, he became happy after he received huge applause from the crowd. "I felt a sense of acknowledgement. I was in a good mood all the way to home."

Yi Qunlin plays the piano in the CCTV building. [Photo/CCTV News]

Yi said he had not touched a piano for over 30 years before he filmed the video, yet many musical scores came back to him once he sat down. His love for music started as a teenager, when he taught himself the piano and other instruments. Despite the heavy workload in adult life, he still managed to set aside time to play flute and harmonica after work.

Many people have been touched by Yi's attitude toward life and long-lasting love for music after knowing his story.

Recently, a CCTV journalist brought him an invitation to take part in the 2024 CCTV Dragon Year Spring Festival Gala. With trembling hands, Yi opened the envelope. "As a farmer, I never dreamed to have such a moment in my life!"

Lang Lang's response to Yi Qunlin on his official Weibo account: "Big brother Yi, I have seen your video, and thumbs-up to your spirit of loving life. Thanks for your liking, and I am looking forward to meeting you, too!" [Screenshot from Lang Lang's official Weibo Account]

On Jan 21, Yi came to Beijing to watch the second rehearsal of the Dragon Year Spring Festival Gala, and played the piano at the hall of CCTV building. After the performance, he said with a shy smile: "I like Mr. Lang Lang very much. I wonder if he could give me piano instructions."

The media and netizens spread out his request. In the evening that day, Lang Lang responded to him on his official Weibo account: "Big brother Yi, I have seen your video, and thumbs-up to your spirit of loving life. Thanks for your liking, and I am looking forward to meeting you, too!"

"I was at the construction site yesterday, and today I'm at the CCTV building in Beijing. It is really pleasant to see such a big stage. I am a builder who likes playing the piano, and I hope that everyone could remain committed to their dream!"

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