North American Guqin Association

Report on Poetry of the Tang Dynasty & Music of the Guqin

On Friday, February 24th Wang Fei and Fred Pohlmann presented the program ˇ°Poetry of the Tang Dynasty and Music of the Guqinˇ± at the Half Moon Bay Library. The exquisite playing of Wang Fei captivated an enthusiastic audience of over 70 people, who expressed their appreciation both during the break and after the program. One man said he was deeply moved by the reading of Du Fu's Pengya Song. A woman remarked that the only thing missing that evening was candlelight.

Please see the photos taken by Michael Cohen at

NAGA's goal is using different ways to present Chinese poetry and music to enhance people's interest in and appreciation of Chinese culture. Throughout the evening they fused the two arts by using different modes of presentation such as reciting poems in Chinese and in English to live guqin accompaniment, playing solos pieces on the guqin that relate to Tang poetry, and playing while singing (in both Chinese and English, this is the first ever such performance) Tang poems using a traditional recitation singing style. Wang Fei spoke on various topics about the guqin: its origin, its place in Chinese culture and relationship to Chinese literature, its construction, and more. Fred related highlights from the life of Du Fu and events of the Tang Dynasty of his time, giving the program a narrative framework.

This event was previewed in both Chinese and English media. There was a big preview in the Half Moon Bay Review, it was the subject of the first article on page 3 of the Singtao Daily, a leading Bay Area Chinese newspaper, and it was in the San Mateo county Library newsletter ˇ°Connectionsˇ±.


1.    Guan Shan Yue, by Wang Fei (qin solo).

2.    Li Bai's Listening to the Sichuan Monk Jun, recited by Wang Fei and Fred in both Chinese and English while Wang Fei played qin music.

3.    Li Bai's poem Playful Gift, recited in English by Fred to Wang Fei's guqin playing.

4.    Zi Ye Wu Ge (Midnight Song From Wu), by Wang Fei (qin song, she sang in both Chinese and English). The nature of qin songs and NAGA's ongoing project to create English lyrics for qin songs were further topics.

5.    A reading of Du Fu's Pengya Song in English to a recording of Li Xiangting's xiao improvisation.

6.    Ping Sha Luo Yan (Wild Geese Descending on the Sandbank), by Wang Fei (qin solo).

7.    Du Fu's Moonlit Night, recited in English by Fred to Wang Fei's guqin playing.

8.    Du Fu's Facing Snow, recited in English by Fred to Wang Fei's guqin playing.

9.    Jiu Kuang (Drunken Ecstasy), by Wang Fei (qin solo).

10. Du Fu's Full Moon, recited in English by Fred with Wang Fei's guqin playing.

11.Du Fu's Watching Fireflies, recited in English by Fred with Wang Fei's guqin playing.

12. Fred read a poem of his own in homage to Li Bai and Du Fu entitled Li Po and Du Fu Coming to America.

13. Liu Shui (Flowing Water), by Wang Fei (qin solo).

14. Fred gave a solo rendition of Chang Xiang Si (Longing) followed by a performance by Wang Fei of the same piece while singing in Chinese.

15. Lastly, (Wang Fei's idea) Yang Guan San Die (Three Variations on the Yang Pass) was performed as a farewell to the audience. Wang Fei sang NAGA's recent English version while playing. Willow branches were handed to some in the audience as parting gifts, enacting an ancient Chinese custom.

Link to program flyer.

Michael Cohen generously donated his time to videotape the event. Thank you, Michael.

Reporter: Fred Pohlmann

Editor: Julian Joseph

North American Guqin Association


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