Erhu

Erhu started to be popular in China during the Sung Dynasty, and underwent great development during the golden age of regional operas. In the late 1800s, under the influence of Hua Yanjun (1893-1950) and Liu Tianhua (1895-1932), the Erhu developed into solo instrument from mainly accompaniment in operas. It has a small sound box and a long neck. It has two strings, with a bow inserted between them. With a range of about three octaves, it’s sound is rather like a violin, but with a thinner tone due to the smaller resonating chamber. The Erhu assumes a central position in the modern Chinese orchestra, as well as in the accompaniment of singing, dancing, and traditional operas.

Churong He

Erhu Instructor

An executive director of Chinese Musician Association Erhu Society and director of China Nationalities Orchestra Society Huqin Professional Association, Ms. He entered China Conservatory of Music in 1981, following Prof. Tian Baoan and Liu Mingyuan, the most well-known Huqin virtuoso in Chinese music. Graduating in 1985, she began teaching in the Conservatory, and also winning 3rd place in Beijing Erhu Invitational that year and 2nd place in Fulitong International Chinese Instrument Solo Competition in 1995. Her etudes have been selected as part of the Chinese Musician Association National Amateur Erhu Examination Repertory, and her essays Vibrato Variety in Lanhuahua Ballade and Performing and Teaching the Henan Melody have been published in magazines China Music and China Erhu. Her article Traditional Techniques and Vibrato is included in the book "How to Improve Erhu Performance.” Ms. He has toured Japan, Korea, and the Philippines for performances. Having taught for 30 years, her students are professionals all over as part of the most outstanding performing groups in the nation, winning various awards in national competitions, holding recitals as the youngest soloist in history, and holding the title of concertmaster in China Broadcasting National Orchestra. 

Publications: Traditional Techniques and Vibrato, Vibrato Variety in Lanhuahua Ballade

Su-Chen Liu

Erhu Instructor

Ms. Liu grew up in Hsinchu, Taiwan. She graduated from National Taiwan Academy of Arts Chinese Music Department with the first place in 1985. Ms. Liu was a professional Erhu player in Taipei Chinese Orchestra for 10 years since 1988. As the Orchestra member, she visited USA, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong & Mainland China. She taught at summer music camp hosted by Taipei Chinese Orchestra, and also taught many schools' Chinese Orchestras as an Erhu instructor. These schools include Zhongshan Girls High School, Shuguang Girls High School, Huajiang Middle School, Dafeng Elementary School, Wangxi Elementary School and Dongmen Elementary School in Taipei, and Zhongzheng Middle School and Xinyi Elementary School in Keelung. In 1998, she held a solo concert in Recital Hall of National Concert Hall in Taipei, and then immigrated to the US. She performed with Crystal Children's Choir many times since 2000. In October 2006, she performed Moon Reflection in Erquan with San Francisco Girls Chorus. In 2010, she premièred the Symphonic Suite for Erhu, Pipa & Sheng Young Impressions of the Old City with Symphony Silicon Valley and other two FYCO soloists.

John Chiang

Erhu Instructor

An active musician, John was concertmaster of Dachung Chinese Orchestra in Taiwan from 2004 to 2011, leading his orchestra to win many prizes and receive positive reviews from music critics and music magazines from their performances. He also helped co-found Taiwanese Ensemble in 2007 with three other musicians, and has been invited to perform in several festivals in Europe. He has appeared in numerous performances as a soloist and chamber musician, touring Taiwan, China, Japan, America, Canada, French, Italy, and Swiss. He won several Erhu competitions, including First Prize of Taiwan National Music Competition, and National Yellow Bell Chinese Music Competition. He holds his Bachelor of Chinese Musical Performance from National Tainan University of the Arts in Taiwan, majoring in the Erhu and Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology from University of Florida. Now he is constantly trying to maximize the possibility of the Erhu instrument with the presentation of interdisciplinary and intercultural performances. He is currently one of the members in Taiwan musician ensemble “Talents of Principles”, which includes Chinese instruments and Western instruments, performing contemporary compositions and modern dance. They have been invited to perform in Taiwan National Music Hall, Suzhou Eslite Book Store, and Shanghai Fashion Week. John is also involved in several music associations, including the Society of Ethnomusicology, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and Chinese Music Research. He is a council for Certificate of Merit of Music Teachers’ Association California.

Dizi

The Dizi is the bamboo flute. It has about 9,000 years of history. Generally, The Dizi has 2 categories: the Bongdi with a higher pitch and the Qudi with a gentler tone quality.

Dizi has a membrane hole (mo-kong) in addition to a mouth hole and 6 finger holes. The membrane helps produce a sweet and bright sound.

The range the Dizi is about two and a half octaves. Traditionally players have a set of Dizi, one for each desired key.

Jifan Li

Dizi Instructor

The director of Dizi, Bawu, and Hulusi Associations of China Nationalities Orchestra Society, bachelor degree, Weibo musician, and the first place winner in Beijing Art Festival in 2007. Started learning the Piano at the age of 5, and the Dizi at 8 from her father Zengguang Li, the wind instrument principal of China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra, first-class musician certified by the State, and the guest professor of National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. Jifan has pursued further studies with Mr. Ning Baosheng, the chief Dizi musician in National Chinese Orchestra; Prof. Dai Ya, the vice chair of Chinese Music Department in Central Conservatory of Music; and the Conservatory’s Prof. Dong Liqiang for composition and orchestration. She was head of Golden Sail Chinese Orchestra and principal of the wind section. Since the age of thirteen, Ms. Li has joined many domestic and international cultural and arts activities as a Dizi soloist. In 2005, she gave a performance in Lunar New Year Music Festival in Sydney. In 2006, she acted as a musician and concert MC in Taiwan, and was warmly received by Mr. Lien Chan, the chair of Nationalist Party of China. In 2007, she was invited to give lectures in Sweden and reported by GD DEL 2. In the same year, she performed Oasis, the most difficult bamboo flute concerto with a grand Chinese orchestra in Zhongshan Park Music Hall and other theaters. In 2008, she was sent by China State Council to perform in New York, Washington D. C., Detroit, Cincinnati and other US cities. In 2012, she was invited by Taiwan Compatriots Association to visit Taiwan and create recordings by CCTV. Ms. Li began teaching the Dizi in an early age. With a friendly and rigorous style, she was a very welcomed teacher in Beijing Yixin Training School, and well accepted by students and their parents. Since 2013, Jifan has composed a number of original songs. Her published works include Let the Rain Fly, My Father’s Bicycle, Fend off the Cold, My Flowers, Together No Matter What, Dust to Dust, No Need to Wait, Reaching the Clouds, Fallen Leaves of Bodhi Tree, Listen, among many others.

Sheng

Sheng is one of the oldest instruments. In ancient China, the Sheng played an important role in court music, folk ensembles, and accompaniments for musical storytelling (Quyi) and regional opera (Xiqu).

Most modern Sheng consists of 21 or 36 reeds mounted in bamboo pipes with different lengths. Sounds are produced by blowing and sucking the air through the mouthpiece. By virtue of its construction, this unique instrument is capable of making up to six notes simultaneously. Western people commonly call it the “mouth organ”.

Fenglin Zhang

Sheng Instructor

Mr. Zhang started his study of the Chinese instruments since childhood. After 10 years of systematic and professional training, Zhang graduated from China Conservatory of Music in 1985. He entered China National Opera Theater as the Sheng and Xun performer for 15 years.

Along with the Theater, Zhang performed more than 1,000 shows all over China. He also performed on air for CCTV's live music programs, made many recordings, and participated in numerous national and international arts activities, visiting Japan, Russia and a dozen other countries/regions. Zhang performed in the 1st and 2nd China Arts Festival as a lead musician in the Theater. He won the Excellent Performer Award in 1991 given by the Department of Culture for his performance in Tibet. Zhang performed with the Theater for President Bill Clinton during his visit in China in 1998, and was granted the honor to meet with the President.

Suona

With a distinctively loud and high-pitched sound, the Suona plays an important role in traditional ensembles and regional operas in Northern China. It is also common in the ritual music of Southern China.

The traditional Suona has a small double reed, a conical wooden body, and a detachable metal bell. Since the mid-20th century, modernized versions have been developed in China; such instruments have keys similar to those of the European oboe, to allow for playing of chromatic notes and equal tempered tuning. Now the modern Suona family includes the Treble, Alto, Tenor, Bass, even Double Bass.

Zhang Yu

Suona Instructor

Right after his graduation from Central Conservatory of Music in 1986, Mr. Yu entered China Chinese Orchestra, as an associate principal of the treble suona section. He was a member of China Musician Association and an examiner in the Chinese National Music Performing Examination Committee. From 1982 to 1999, Yu visited over 20 countries including the US, Germany Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Japan as Suona soloist along with the Conservatory and the Orchestra. He also recorded for movie and TV soundtracks with the suona and the saxophone. Mr. Yu immigrated to the US in 1999 and joined FYCO in 2001. In addition to suona, he also teaches dizi, flute and saxophone in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Zheng

Zheng is one of the most ancient Chinese musical instruments and has been in existence since the Warring States Period (475-221BC) and became especially popular during the Qin Dynasty. Zheng is built with a special wood sound body with strings arched across movable bridges for the purpose of tuning. The pitch of a given string is determined by the position of the bridge. It usually has 21 strings. To play the instrument, a musician plucks the strings with the right hand and presses or touches the strings with the left for vibratos or desired pitches. The old stylistic schools of playing Zheng many centuries ago are still in existence today. Sounding melodious and elegant, it is an important solo instrument, and in accompaniments as well.

Melody Liu

Zheng instructor

Received the Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from Xi'an Conservatory of Music in 2009, winning the first class in the National Fellowship by the Ministry of Education of China in 2008 for her outstanding study. With her group, she attended the First Chinese Traditional Musical Instrument Contest in Shaanxi in 2007, and won 1st prize for the plucked instrument ensemble of the professional category, in addition to an excellent award as a soloist. Liu has taught students in various ages from diverse cultural backgrounds since 2002. She was a Zheng instructor at Shenandoah University from 2010 to 2011, and held her recital in Winchester, VA. Liu is an experienced teacher who sets individualized goals according to her students' levels and needs.

Emma Chen-Hua Lin

Zheng instructor

Majoring in the Zheng (laptop harp), Ms. Lin graduated from National Taiwan University of Arts. She performed in National Concert Hall in Taipei, Chungshan Hall and Cultural Center in Taichung, Virtue Hall in Kaohsiung, 2nd China Zheng Island International Arts Festival, Pesamuhan Bodhicitta Mandala Indonesia, and Asian Zither Festival in Vietnam. She has also won the second place in the 1st Hong Kong Zheng Competition professional group. In recent years, Emma appeared on Children Image Festival in Queen Elizabeth Hall , London, the Los Angeles HTTV 2014 Chinese New Year TV Show, and 2016 WeChat Spring Festival Gala in San Gabriel Theatre. She also published her own music album Amazing Zheng.

Pipa

Pipa is a four-stringed plucked instrument and sometimes called the Chinese lute. Modern Pipa originated in Central Asia and arrived in China in the 4th century AD. The Pipa reached a height of popularity during the Tang Dynasty (618–906), and was a principal musical instrument in the imperial court. It was also mentioned frequently in the Tang poetry. The famous one is the Pipa Xing by great poet Bai Juyi. With a pear-shaped wooden body, the most common Pipa today has 6 bone-ledges on its neck and 30 bamboo frets on its belly. Held vertically on the lap, the player plays it using artificial fingernails. The range of techniques that can be used are the widest among all of the Chinese plucked-strings, making it the most expressive in the plucked instrument.

Xie Tan

Pipa Instructor

XIE learned music from the age of 5, and started performing at 11. Before going to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution at 16, XIE performed in almost all theaters in Beijing. He served in a dance and song troupe on a farm in Helongjiang Province 1969–1975, and was a professional Pipa player in China Pingju Opera Theater in Beijing 1978–1989. He studied the instrument with Prof. Jiang Fengzhi, Yang Dajun, and Lin Shicheng in addition to taking regular private lessons from Prof. Han Shude, Wu Junsheng, and Wang Fandi. Before moving to the US, he had accumulated extensive experiences from about 3,000 performances as a musician, and 5,000 various shows as an audience member.

XIE started his studio Eastern Music Center in 1995, founded Firebird Youth Chinese Orchestra in 2000, and taught Chinese instruments in San Jose City College since 2002. For decades, he has focused on teaching the fundamental skills. As being very sensitive to tone quality and articulations, he can instantly discover students' fundamental problems and suggest a simple yet practical way to resolve it. Each and every student can benefit from his group lessons even with a class size of a dozen or more. In addition to the musical skills, XIE pays a great deal of attention to nurture the students' morality, as he believes it is the root of the Chinese cultural heritage and tradition.

Liuqin

"Liu" in Chinese means willow. "Qin" means music instrument. The name "Liuqin" comes from the fact that the instrument is made of willow wood and shaped like a willow leaf. The earliest precursor of the modern four-stringed Lingqin appeared and experienced popularity during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 - 907). It has been an accompaniment instrument in folk Chinese opera and in narrative music for much of dynastic China. The modernization of Liuqin in 1970s resulted in a gradual elevation in status of liuqin to an instrument well-appreciated for its unique tonal and acoustic qualities. Crisp and bright, the Liuqin is the highest-pitched member of the plucked strings but its volume is small. It is capable of producing an exciting and agitating tune when played loudly, and a sweet and touching tune when played softly.

Ruan

"Ruan" has over 2000 years of history. It was first named ruanxian, after a famous musician Ruan Xian, one of the reputed “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove” of the Six Dynasties period in ancient China. In its hirtory, ruan was also termed as “qin pipa” and “yueqin” (moon-shaped lute). Ruan is a lute with a fretted neck, a circular body, and four strings. Its strings were formerly made of silk, but since the 20th century they have been made of steel (flatwound for the lower strings). Mellow in tone quality, it is often seen in ensembles or in accompaniments, and as a solo instrument in recent years. In Chinese orchestras, only the Zhongruan and Daruan are commonly used, to fill in the alto and bass section of the plucked string section.

I-Lan Emily Lin

Liuqin/Ruan Instructor

Ms. Lin was born in Taiwan Taipei, and has been studying piano since she was little. At age 9, she began Liuqin and Ruan with liuqin master Catherine Cheng. Not only did she graduated from Hwakang art high school and received her BFA from Chinese Culture University Chinese music department (major in liuqin), but she also studied with many famous Chinese plucked instrument masters among Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. In 1999 she was honored as Hwakang Chinese music new superstar, and performed the liuqin concerto “Melody on a Moonlit River” in Taipei National Recital Hall. In 2005, she earned her Master’s degree in Music Education from Pennsylvania State University. She had two wonderful and successful solo recitals during her study at Penn State University. Ms. Lin received many liuqin and ruan championship in Taiwan Taipei East district. In 1995 and 1996, she earned the Taiwan National Youth Liuqin Competition champion and second award. Since 1992, she has performed in countless places including Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, USA and Guam with Taipei Liuqin Ensemble, Taipei Youth Chinese Orchestra, HwaKang Yuan-Shiun Chinese Classical Ensemble and Keelung Municipal Chinese Classical Orchestra. She was taught many schools as Chinese plucked instrument instructor, and was 2000 Taipei Millennium Ethno-music competition Liuqin group judge committee member.