Fusing East and West through music

Updated: 2016-02-06 04:08

By NIU YUE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Fusing East and West through music

The Charm: Traditional Instrument Modern Interpretation, a Chinese traditional musical instrument concert, is staged at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Monday. Six New York-based Chinese young professionals performed innovative fusion music that combined Chinese elements such as the guzheng and erhu with Western elements of jazz and electronics. PHOTO BY LONG YIFAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Traditional Chinese instruments are becoming increasingly innovative and present on the world stage these days, and now they are tuning in to the US market.

Six Chinese musicians specializing in traditional instruments gave a concert called The Charm: Traditional Instruments, Modern Interpretation at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Monday, a week before the Lunar New Year.

The concert was intended to convert American audiences’ “stereotypes” of traditional Chinese instrumental music, according to Yang Feifei, the concert’s artistic director and huqin performer.

Yang said some US audiences think of Chinese traditional instrumental music as inferior street performers’ “mercy shows”.

“You hear the melancholy strains of an erhu and you give a dollar to show your sympathy,” she said.

The range of Chinese traditional instrumental music is “far beyond” that, she said. And the key to changing Americans’ perceptions is to make a “brand new beginning”.

Yang said the concert was a good start.

Musicians from both the Western and Eastern hemispheres got together and thought out a compatible and harmonious combination of the two styles of music.

“We put the element of jazz music into the erhu and we also imported the beat of popular electronic music into the guzheng performance,” she said.

Yang, a pioneer in fusing erhu with orchestral musical instruments, made her debut album in 2015.

Concert producer Shen Jiaju said she had long been bringing contemporary interpretations and flavors of jazz, funk and reggae to traditional Chinese music.

Composer and pianist Li Zhong created his piece by incorporating electronic music into classical Chinese music.

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