Playing on the heartstrings

By Chen Nan | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-07-19 07:43

Cellist Ou-yang Nana will soon conduct a 12-city tour of the mainland to support her new album - songs from Walt Disney movies. Chen Nan reports.

Like many people her age, Ou-yang Nana grew up watching Walt Disney movies, and her favorite character is Cinderella.

"She faces life's difficulties with kindness and courage, which is very inspiring to me," says Ou-yang, a 17-year-old cellist from Taiwan. "I apply that philosophy in my own life."

When she was asked by her record company, Universal Music Group, to record an album of songs from movies by Walt Disney Pictures, Ou-yang naturally chose the song, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, which was written and composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston, for the Disney movie, Cinderella, in 1950.

 Playing on the heartstrings

Ou-yang Nana plays the cello at a recent news conference in Beijing. Mao Jingchun / For China Daily

 Playing on the heartstrings

The musician meets the audience on July 7 in a cinema in Fuzhou, Fujian province, to promote campus film All About Secrets that stars her. Zheng Shuai / For China Daily

The cellist also chose another eight pieces to perform with the Bulgarian Film Orchestra for the album, Cello Loves Disney, including Let It Go, a song written and composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Disney's 2013 movie, Frozen, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight, a song composed and sung by Elton John, from the 1994 movie, The Lion King.

One of the highlights of the album sees the cellist performing with Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan on a Mandarin version of the pop song, A Whole New World, from Disney's 1992 movie, Aladdin.

To support the new album, which was released on June 16, Ou-yang will launch a 12-city tour across the Chinese mainland from Beijing on Aug 15, other cities including Suzhou, Nanjing and Hangzhou.

It has been two years since the cellist released her debut album, titled 15, on which she performs classical pieces, such as German composer Felix Mendelssohn's cello sonatas, Songs Without Words, and British cellist and composer William Henry Squire's Tarantella (Op 23 for cello and piano).

"In the past, my goal was to become a cellist with great technique and distinctive style. So I put emotional music pieces that touched me on my first album. But now, I want more people to enjoy my music," she says.

Her change of attitude came from audience feedback.

"Most members of the audience coming to my recitals are teenagers. They often find the classical music pieces hard to understand and then lose interest," says the cellist. "I want to show them that classical music can be fun. I want to offer them a different feeling about classical music and the cello."

Born in Taipei in a celebrity family - her parents are both actors and her aunt a pop singer, Ou-yang has lived in the spotlight from a young age. Since childhood, she has appeared on TV shows with her parents and two sisters, Nini, 21, and Didi, 13. She picked up the cello at age 5 and made up her mind to become a cellist at 8. But her parents didn't think their daughter would take up the cello as a career until she won some awards in music competitions on the island.

Playing on the heartstrings

In 2013, she went to the United States to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was taught by renowned cellists Peter Wiley and Carter Brey.

Willowy, long black hair, and big-eyed, Ou-yang is also an actress, starring in the 2014 romantic comedy Beijing Love Story, and recently in the campus romance All About Secrets.

"I really don't feel an advantage over others because of my family background, but I do feel I need to work very hard to prove myself," she says.

Earlier this month, Ou-yang traveled to 17 cities on the Chinese mainland to promote her new movie and new album.

"Lately, I often think of my childhood, especially the days when I began playing the cello," she says. "I miss the days when I had the time to play my instrument for six hours or more a day alone in my room. But now I have to squeeze a few hours to be alone with my instrument."

She always guarantees herself at least three hours of practice every day, as "a way of meditation and relaxation".

Calling being a cellist a passion and her role as an actress a job, Ou-yang says her musical ambition is to collaborate with the Japanese composer and conductor Joe Hisaishi.

"It is on my wish list. But I know I still need to prepare myself more to make this collaboration happen," she says.

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(China Daily USA 07/19/2017 page10)

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