Liu Yuening, Boosting India-China Musical Ties

  • March 27, 2014
  • Editor: Leo Yin
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Liu Yuening, Boosting India-China Musical Ties
Liu Yuening, noted Chinese yangqin player, together with Indian santoor player Tarun Bhattacharya and tabla player Vijay Ghate, stages a brilliant musical show at the third of the 'East Meets East' concerts at the Beijing Concert Hall on the night of June 6, 2013. [Baidu Image]

Liu Yuening, Chinese well-known yangqin player and professor of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, initiated the 'Sino-Indian new music' project, saying that she hoped she can keep Chinese instrumental idioms but at the same time find a meeting point between the two music traditions.


"Despite my great appreciation for Indian musical culture, I will never forget I am a Chinese musician and the responsibility I bear to share and spread Chinese musical culture. I love doing these things and I am very proud of being the first Chinese folk musician to pave the way for Sino-Indian cultural exchange," said Liu Yuening, a famous Chinese yangqin player. 

For the first time, the Chinese dulcimer the yangqin and the Indian dulcimer the santoor were played together with a symphony orchestra at a concert in Beijing last year titled 'East Meets East.' 

The yangqin came to China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and became popular first in south China's Guangdong Province and then later throughout the country. The timbre is clear and bright with a wide tonal range, and the instrument accompanies other Chinese musical instruments, or is played solo.

The santoor, an Indian instrument, is somewhat smaller in size, though of the same shape. Played using two wooden mallets, similar to the yangqin, it seems to be a likely predecessor of the latter. However, the technical structures of these two instruments, including the placing of tuning pegs, bridges and mallets, differ greatly.

On the night of June 6, 2013, Liu, together with Indian santoor player Pandit (or Pt., an honorary Hindu title) Tarun Bhattacharya and tabla player Vijay Ghate, staged a brilliant musical show at the Beijing Concert Hall in the third of the 'East Meets East' concerts. 

Liu and Bhattacharya presented a joint concert in Calcutta on May 4, 2009, which was the first joint concert with the Chinese yangqin and the Indian santoor in India, proving that music is a language that can traverse both history and geography. 

Although the two instruments are said to be related, the stamp of the two countries was very vivid in the music they created. Bhattacharya and Liu managed to create a musical dialogue, which speaks volumes for the high caliber of their musical talent.

Liu, whose mother is a doctor and father a businessman, got an opportunity to learn to play the yangqin when one of her father's friends, a yangqin exponent, visited her home as a child. He played the instrument and she instantly fell in love with its sound. Her father then asked his friend to teach her. When she was 12, she entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Liu got her master's degree at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1994 and her PhD at Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary in 2008. She also studied at the Delhi University of India in 2009 as a fellow of the Ford Foundation.

Ever since, India and its musical tradition have held Liu's fascination. "I stayed in Delhi for eight months, listening to all kinds of Indian music, even Bollywood! I learned the santoor from Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, and got myself one," she said. 

"India has become my second home recently," Liu described her connection to India in 2011 and said that her first brush with the country was with the film song Awara Hoon, which she heard when she 12. 

"I think my life is meaningful when I spread Chinese culture and share its essence with people from other countries through music," said Liu. "I hope different people from different countries with different cultural backgrounds can all enjoy the happiness that music bring to them."

"Despite my great appreciation for Indian musical culture, I will never forget I am a Chinese musician and the responsibility I am bear to share and spread Chinese musical culture. I love doing these things and I am very proud of being the first Chinese folk musician to pave the way for Sino-Indian cultural exchange," Liu added. 

Today, as a professor at the conservatory, Liu is only too happy to share her musical knowledge with many aficionados, while using her position to collaborate with musicians from the across the world.

(Source: youth.cn/Translated by womenofchina.cn)

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