North American Guqin Association

NAGA Guqin Events for January 2007

“Qin on Wheels” – a Journey to Southern California Report

The guqin is a world heritage tradition but is rarely seen even in China. There are only a handful of professional performers in the world, and they seldom tour. 

In conjunction with the guqin recital “An Evening of Guqin Music with Wang Fei” at UC Santa Barbara and a series of lectures at UCLA and UCSB, NAGA formed a crew and held a “Qin on Wheels” trip from January 16th ­ 19th, to introduce the qin and meet qin friends in Southern California.

This was not only a rare opportunity for Southern California qin friends to experience a concert caliber performance by an exceptionally talented player, but also a very good opportunity for NAGA members from Northern California to meet their counterparts in Southern California. On this trip we featured a gathering with guqin and pipa player Lui Pui Yuen, Professor of Ethnomusicology Helen Rees and others in LA.

Please see the photo album at

Major activities

  1. “An Evening of Guqin Music with Wang Fei” solo concert at UCSB (18th)
  2. Guqin lecture at UCLA (17th)
  3. Guqin presentation at UCSB (18th)
  4. Guqin yaji in LA (16th)

An Evening of Guqin Music with Wang Fei

The main event of the NAGA tour was of course the evening concert on January 18th. The order of the selections for this particular concert was not a conventional one but reflected Wang Fei's innovative intent to create an emotional environment and to explore Chinese culture through her music. Her brief commentary before some pieces not only informed the audience about stories associated with those pieces but also created a fitting mood. Wang Fei's magnificent playing was an introduction to qin music for most of the audience, and the theater's exceptional sound system conveyed the music admirably. No matter which piece she played, traditional favorites like Meihua San Nong or Liu Shui, more meditative and subtle pieces such as Oulu Wang Ji or Yi Guren, or rarely played pieces like Ao Ai, the audience was mesmerized. Generous applause followed every qin melody, and many people came to the stage after the performance to express their thanks and ask questions. For a description of the program with notes on each piece please visit

About Wang Fei

Wang Fei has been professionally trained in literature, music and art since childhood and has studied with several important masters in these fields. She is an international award winning artist, published writer, and accomplished musician who has toured internationally. Not only is she one of the few scholars who have truly mastered the qin and who can bring qin music to a wider audience, she is also one of the few qin performers who still maintain the qin in the traditional way as a scholarly art. Her elegant, graceful and peaceful style brings to her audiences the feeling of reading poems and enjoying Chinese landscape paintings when they listen to her qin playing.

Guqin lecture at UCLA

On the morning of January 17th, Wang Fei was invited by Professor Helen Rees of the Ethnomusicology Department of UCLA to give a lecture on the guqin and its notation. UCLA is where world music classes started, as well as one of the first western universities to bring qin learning to the classroom. Nowadays, a lot of American ethnomusicologists still follow UCLA's teaching pattern and introduce the guqin to their students. Although qin knowledge is rarely taught in universities in China, in American academic circles students already have an understanding of the qin from their classes. For example, Wang Fei told the group that our bringing qin music back to UCLA is very meaningful. The clear and detailed PowerPoint presentation gave the students information on the qin and its history as well as a sense of its range and capabilities. The class instructor Dr. Tanya Henson commented several times that the students were particularly attentive during this lecture. As Wang Fei said at the beginning of the lecture, we hope those students, future ethnomusicologists, scholars, musicians etc. will pass their knowledge of the guqin on to the next generation. NAGA members then had a tour of the ethnomusicology department, the oldest in the US, conducted by Professor Li Chi. Instruments from many different Asian cultures filled a huge hall. Chinese music had its own office with its own diverse collection of instruments. Our group then went to the faculty club of the UCLA faculty for lunch and lively conversation. We felt very much at home at UCLA.

Guqin presentation at UCSB

On the afternoon of January 18th, Wang Fei gave a similar lecture at the Multicultural Center at UCSB. The DVD was shown and once again received positive comments. After the lecture we were treated to a reception and dinner. We learned through UCSB chancellor Henry T. Yang's speech during the banquet that five faculty members have won Nobel prizes in the past seven years. UCSB has become the university with the most Nobel prizes winners after Stanford. As attendees feasted Alec Wodtke, a professor from the chemistry department, entertained us with a talk on China's importance to the US and the world. UCSB has an ongoing joint research project in the field of chemistry with Dalian, China. The dinner was followed by a guqin concert, the university's way of bringing exposure to Chinese culture to the students, the faculty, and the wider UCSB community.

 Guqin yaji in LA

On the evening of Tuesday, January 16th at the UCLA Guest House, the North American Guqin Association held a yaji with local scholars, qin players, and qin enthusiasts. Even though people only knew about it one day before we arrived at UCLA, more people attended the yaji than we expected. Lui Pui Yuen, a retired qin scholar from UCLA, played several qin pieces throughout the evening. Helen Rees, Professor of Ethnomusicology, and Chou Hung-Hsiang, Associate Professor of the Asian Languages and Cultures Department, as well as excellent Sheng player Liu Qichao, composer Michael Mathis and qin and zheng player Sophy Huang were among our distinguished guests. Attendees watched both NAGA's yaji retrospective slide show and Wang Fei's recent DVD. Guests were particularly impressed with the artistic combination of video images and qin music on the DVD. A full evening of music unfolded. Listening to Wang Fei and Lui Pui Yuen reminded the audience of how lucky northern and southern Californians are to have such exquisite players in their midst. Liang Xiao Yin (Prelude for a Pleasant Evening) was a fitting and perfect last piece for that night-time yaji. Eager conversation between newly found qin friends from distant parts of California ended this unique gathering. See below for the full program listing.

Yaji program

1.     Showing of NAGA yaji video and Wang Fei's DVD Oulu Wang Ji (Without Ulterior Motives)

2.     Feng Qiu Huang – Jiang Wenyu with Fred Pohlmann reciting Du Fu's Qin Terrace and Jiang Wenyu singing the lyrics

3.     Ping Sha Luo Yan (Wild Geese Descending on the Sandbank) – Wang Fei

4.     Yu Qiao Wen Da (Dialogue Between the Fisherman and the Woodcutter) – Lui Pui Yuen

5.     Liu Shui (Flowing Water) – Lui Pui Yuen

6.     You Lan (The Solitary Orchid) – Wang Fei

7.     Du Fu's Yue Ye (Moonlit Night) – recited by Fred Pohlmann

8.     Li Bai's Ting Shu Seng Chun Tan Qin (Listening to the Sichuan Monk Chun Play the Qin) – recited by Fred Pohlmann

9.     Chang Xiang Si (Longing) – Jiang Wenyu

10.  Hujia Shiba Pai (18 Stanzas on the Barbarian Flute) – Wang Fei with Fred Pohlmann reciting the poem and Wang Fei singing the lyrics

11.  Liang Xiao Yin (Prelude for a Pleasant Evening) – Lui Pui Yuen

List of attendees

Chou Hung-Hsiang

Sophy Huang

Lui Pui Yuen

Michael Mathis

Fred Pohlmann

Liu Qichao

Helen Rees

Wang Fei

Jiang Wenyu


For an html version of the yaji report, please visit

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Reporter: Fred Pohlmann

Editor: Julian Joseph

North American Guqin Association


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