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December 17, 2010

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Rare concert of poetic guqin songs

THE music of the guqin, a plucked, seven-string zither, has impressed many generations of Chinese people with its simple, elegant and lingering charms.

Works used to be composed to evoke poems, and some had lyrics, mostly famous Chinese poetry.

But the singing of guqin songs is rare nowadays with few artists in this field.

Dai Xiaolian, an acclaimed guqin artist from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, aims to promote guqin songs in a concert this Sunday.

Unlike most modern guqin performers who simply play guqin tunes, Dai will perform with vocalist Liu Fangying and the "Kunqu Opera Prince" Zhang Jun, who will interpret the ancient songs.

The concert will feature 10 guqin songs based on the poetry of renowned ancient Chinese poet Li Bai and patriotic general Yue Fei, sung in both Mandarin and Suzhou dialect.

Suzhou, a city in neighboring Jiangsu Province, is famous for its guqin culture and songs in Suzhou dialect.

These songs evoke the peaceful and simple life of ancient Chinese people, as well as their patriotism in the face of enemies and terror.

"Guqin dates back around 3,000 years and playing the guqin was one of the four arts that ancient scholars were expected to master. The other three were qi (chess), shu (calligraphy) and hua (painting).

In 2003, guqin music was listed by UNESCO as part of mankind's intangible cultural heritage.

"It's hard to know how our predecessors sang guqin songs in ancient times," says musician Dai, adding that she and vocalist Liu have devoted decades to exploring the most authentic skills and styles of the poetic songs.

Guqin songs differ from folk songs, traditional operas and ballads as they seek a harmonious blend of voice and instrument.

These days Dai and her friends are interpreting more ancient scores and trying to keep the art form alive.

Date: December 19, 7:45pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd

Tickets: 80-300 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234


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