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Angels who charm heavenly music from the past

THE pipa (Chinese lute) is one of the most important plucked string instruments in Chinese music with a history dating back centuries.

But in a modern twist the Oriental Angels, a traditional female group, is inviting the famous pipa master Liu Dehai to join them on stage at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center for a night of pipa music in May.

Some of the best-known traditional pipa melodies will be presented by Master Liu and the Oriental Angels, including "Shi Mian Mai Fu" ("Ambushed on All Sides"), "Ying Zhou Gu Diao" (An Ancient Melody from Yingzhou) and "Liu Qing Niang."

Liu is one of the most important pipa masters in China in recent times. As well as being a performer he is also an outstanding educator, composer and conductor. His mastery of pipa has influenced most pipa players.

The Oriental Angels was founded in 2003 and is one of the leading Chinese folk music groups. Consisting of 10 young female Chinese musicians, they play the erhu (Chinese two-string fiddle), yangqin (dulcimer), guqin (a seven-stringed instrument), pipa (plucked zither), guzheng and dizi (bamboo flute). The members are all beautiful with a deep love and passion for music. Most of them were born in musical families and started learning music and playing traditional Chinese music when they were very young.

The leader of the Angels, Wang Long, is a leading yangqin player. She began learning the yangqin from her musician father when she was only seven years old. Wang also released a solo album "Si" in 2000 and "Roland Love" three years later.

The musical director of the Angels is Ma Xianghua, an erhu player who also teaches at the Chinese Conservatory of Music. She started her international performance career when she was just nine.

The Angels have drawn many music lovers back to Chinese traditional music and have taken Chinese folk music to the world.

Since their first show at the Shanghai International Music Festival in November, 2003, the group has appeared in Bhutan and Macau, and has toured through Chinese mainland.

The Angels have worked with many famous international musicians like French pianist Richard Clayderman, the Ron Korb Jazz band from Canada and the Beijing Symphony Orchestra.

Chinese traditional instruments can bring a special charm to Western classical or popular music.

The Angels began presenting bi-weekly concerts at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center last August. The new concert season is highly anticipated. Several masters of traditional Chinese music are being invited to be guest performers with the group.

He Zhanhao, the famous composer of the "Butterfly Lovers," has just performed with them, and before the pipa concert with Liu on May 2 in a concert featuring bowed string instruments, they will perform with erhu master Min Huifeng.

The Angels will also present a plucked string instruments concert, a concert of Western music played on Chinese instruments, a concert of love stories, and a concert with the great Chinese composer Gu Guanren. There will be 24 concerts in all, one every fortnight at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center running through August.

Date: May 2, 7:45pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 40-300 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234; 6485-7785


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