Culture\Music and Theater

Plucking new heart strings

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-16 07:49

Plucking new heart strings

Pipa player Yang Jing has performed around the world over the past few decades. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"I wasn't sure (Chinese) audiences would enjoy my music," she explains.

"Since last year, some of my friends have been telling me it's the right time to return to China, where audiences are embracing a variety of styles. So, I thought I'd give it a try."

Immediately after she graduated in 1986, Yang started as a pipa soloist at the China National Traditional Orchestra in 1986.

A decade later, she founded China's first all-women traditional-instrument quartet, Qing Mei Jing Yue. Other instruments included the erhu (a two-stringed fiddle), the yangqin (a Chinese dulcimer) and the guzheng (a Chinese zither).

Yang left the orchestra in 1998 to move to Japan to study under composer Minoru Miki (1930-2011). That inspired her to explore contemporary music.

"I've learned a lot of new and different concepts ... to enhance my artistic individuality," Yang says of her cooperation with Miki.

She has since performed pipa concertos by Miki with several Japanese orchestras.

While experimenting with the pipa, Yang breaks with orthodoxy by composing her own works since the instrument's traditional repertoire is limited.

Yang also believes incorporating the ancient instrument into contemporary genres offers a way for it to survive modernity. She often improvises when performing with musicians of other styles.

"I've been trying to find new sounds for the pipa," she says.

"It's a process of discovering myself."

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