Every classical guitarist is a Spaniard, and young Xuefei Yang is, too -- despite the fact that she was born in Beijing... I was moved by the musicianship and the very person of this extraordinary young lady. Discover her for yourself." (New York Sun)
Describing the background to this album and the inspiration for its title, Xuefei, known to her English friends as Fei (pronounced Fey), says, "I was born in Beijing, just after the end of the Cultural Revolution a period where western music and instruments were banned. The music of my childhood was the rich heritage of folk music from all regions of China. It is a music I love, but is little known in the West. When I was nine years old, my life changed when I heard a recording that my father made from his radio John Williams playing Spanish music on the classical guitar. The magic of Spanish music touched the heart of a young girl in China, and inspired me to become a professional musician. This CD gives me a wonderful opportunity to share my own interpretations of the two musical worlds of my childhood: the music of Spain, and the music of China. The capital cities of these two countries both lie near latitude 40 degrees north. To me, this parallel has come to symbolize the connection I feel to the music of both countries."
While guitar repertoire in the Western world consists of a combination of transcriptions or arrangements of music originally written for other instruments and compositions expressly written for the guitar, China has no established Chinese guitar repertoire.
Born in Beijing, Xuefei Yang began playing the guitar at the age of seven and took formal lessons three years later from Chen Zhi. She soon made her first public appearance at the first China International Guitar Festival, gaining such acclaim that the Spanish Ambassador to China presented her with a handmade concert guitar. While still a student, she performed extensively in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Australia, Spain and Portugal. In Tokyo, when she was 12, she received a special award from the Guitar Alliance of Japan and was presented with a concert guitar by the celebrated Japanese luthier Masaru Kohno. Fei made her debut in Spain at the age of 14 in a concert attended by the composer Joaquin Rodrigo. John Williams was so impressed with her playing when he heard her perform in Beijing in 1995 that he gave two of his own Smallman guitars to her conservatoire for Fei and other top students to play.
Fei was not only the first guitarist in China to enter music school and later to graduate from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing with a Bachelor of Arts degree, but she was also the first Chinese guitarist to study classical guitar in the West, winning an international scholarship for her postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Lewin, John Mills and Timothy Walker. She graduated with distinction, gaining a DipRAM, the school's highest performance award.
Now in her late 20s, Xuefei Yang has given concerts throughout the U.K., the U.S., Australia and 40 countries in Europe and Asia, at such venues as the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London, the Philharmonie Berlin, Musikhalle Hamburg, National Concert Hall, Taipei, Hong Kong City Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Esplanade Singapore, Guangzhou XingHai Concert Hall, Beijing Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, Herbst Theatre San Francisco and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. In 2003 she performed in 54 concerts for the "Night of the Proms" tour throughout Europe before an estimated audience of 800,000. She has also broadcast on numerous radio and television programmes in China and the West, including Radio 3 as part of
the BBC Proms.
Xuefei Yang's exclusive recording contract with EMI Classics was launched in 2006 with the release of Romance de Amor, which was awarded a gold disc in Hong Kong, reaching No. 2 in the charts and remaining in the top 10 for several months. It was No. 2 in the iTunes Top Albums chart in the U.K. and has received outstanding reviews worldwide. The New York Times wrote, "Yang demonstrates her feisty virtuosity, impeccable technique and sensitive musicianship in repertory ranging from Albeniz to arrangements of Western pop and Asian songs. Ms. Yang seems a Spaniard at heart, her guitar singing as if she had grown up in the shaded courtyards of Andalusia. In Francisco Tarrega's nostalgic "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" she makes the tricky tremolo passagework flow gracefully, colorfully evoking the languid fragrance of southern Spain. A spirited rendition of Isaac Alb?niz's "Asturias" is notable for the dazzling clarity of the opening (here played unusually fast) and the serene beauty of the evocative slow section. In her own arrangement of Gerardo Hernan Matos Rodriguez's "La Cumparsita" Ms. Yang shows that she has the tango gene as well. She seems equally at home in contemporary repertory... It is not hard to understand why Ms. Yang has drawn praise from John Williams and Joaquin Rodrigo."
Xuefei Yang's 2008 engagements include recitals in Germany, the U.S. Spain, and Portugal and throughout the U.K. (including Wigmore Hall) as part of CHINA NOW, the largest ever celebration of Chinese culture throughout the UK in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She also makes concerto appearances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, English Chamber Orchestra and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.
"A full house... was rewarded with an outstanding evening of music, crowned by a wonderful performance by the young Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. There is no question that she is a star in the making... her reading of the solo role was beautifully shaped and highly expressive capturing the emotional impact and quintessentially Spanish idioms of the music
to perfection." (The Scotsman)
"From Beijing to Wimbledon, this is consummate guitar playing from a lady with no equal" (Classic FM)
Xuefei Yang, the groundbreaking Chinese-born, London-based guitarist, has recorded her second CD for EMI Classics, entitled 40 Degrees North. Describing the background to this album and the inspiration for its title, Xuefei, known to her English friends as Fei (pronounced Fey), says, "I was born in Beijing, just after the end of the Cultural Revolution a period where western music and instruments were banned. The music of my childhood was the rich heritage of folk music from all regions of China. It is a music I love, but is little known in the West. When I was nine years old, my life changed when I heard a recording that my father made from his radio John Williams playing Spanish music on the classical guitar. The magic of Spanish music touched the heart of a young girl in China, and inspired me to become a professional musician.
9 New 'ON' this week: 80 Total
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