TheNorth American Guqin Association (NAGA) held a guqinyaji (elegant qingathering) on Sunday, August 1st at at Union City Library. A total of 46 qin friends from around the world attended.
NAGA always prides itself on bringing together qin masters and enthusiasts from a wide range of geographical locations at its yajis. At this yaji, we were honored to have Master Lu Pei Yuan (from LA) and Yin Qiying, qin friend Dr. George Shen and guitar improviser Henry Kaiser to share their music experience, and of course, their captivating music performances.Coincidentally, the yajialso became the occasion of a reunion for Master Lui and Dr. Shen after 50 years spent on different continents. As members of NAGA, we are very glad that our effort to create a qin community has made this happen.
The theme of this yaji was the introduction and influence of the guqin in the West, especially in the US. Every player was asked to share their qin life, and talk about people and incidents related to the guqin outside China.
Here is the detailed program:
Wang Fei, Director of NAGA, gave a brief introduction to guqin culture and history. She also talked about how to register for and attend the First National Guqin Competition and the National Guqin Conference, both of which will take place in Beijing, China in late August. Please see http://www.folkmusic.org.cn for details of both events.
Master LuiPeiyuan continued with a moving account of his association with the qin and the introduction of the qin to the US at the beginning of the last century.
Dr. George Shen, the son of 99-year old guqin master T'sarTeh-Yun, talked about Master T'sar's qin life and showed her recently published CDs,guqin scores and traditional poems.
Guzheng master Yin Qiying recalled the Beijing Guqin Society yaji he attended 50 years ago.He was very articulate about the importance of continuing the tradition of guqin gatherings.
The media lab of Hong KongUniversity presented a multimedia guqin education tool.
American qin player Jim Binkley brought us his recent progress in the translation of"Yu Gu Zhaiqinpu". The signs for the right-hand and left-hand techniques explained for non-Chinese qin players can be very useful for the overseas appreciation of guqin.
Due to the wide range of programs available, our yaji continued beyond the usual time and location until . It was to be the longest and most enjoyable yaji we have had to date.
A non-commercial DVD of this yajiavailable. Please contact Neil Strudwick for information on how to obtain a copy. This DVD includes those items marked * on the program, the introduction to the guqinby Wang Fei, and the photo album.
Master LuiPeiyuan gave a moving account of his association with the qin and gave a fascinating performance of “Zui Yu Chang Wan” on the guqin, as well as the two classical pieces, “Yang Chun Bai Xue” and “Shi Mian Mai Fu” on the pipa. Master Lui started playing the pipa at the early age of nine. He first came into contact with the instrument during aTaoist priest's performance at a funeral and started lessons with his neighbor, Mr. Xiao Yinke. He went on to take formal lessons with his brother, and was already the renowned “King of Pipa” when he reached Hong Kong. He started learning Guqin from Master Wu Zhonghan in 1963. Master Lui's vivid account of the chirping of autumn insects while practicing the guqin at the Wu's, brought the audience way back to that elegant study of half a century ago, mesmerizing them with the beauty of a deep human interaction with nature through the guqin. Master LuiPeiyuan also gave an interesting account of how the guqin was brought into the U.S. The first guqin recording was said to have been made by Master ZhaFuxi in the 1940's during a tour of the U.S. Master Wei Zhongle also came from Shanghai to the U.S. in 1947. After that, Master LuiZengyuan, brother of Master LuiPeiyuan, started teaching the pipa in UCLA, and Master LuiPeiyuan himself started teaching in Brown in 1973 before moving on to teach at the music center at Berkeley.
Mr. Henry Kaiser continued the program with an extremely interesting talk and performance, just like his usual innovative self. A renowned guitar improviser, Mr. Kaiser has issued more than 170 CDs, and is at the same time an enthusiast of the guqin. He is the owner of a huge collection of guqin music recordings (more than 150 CDs and LPs ofguqin music). Mr. Kaiser has listened to a lot of qin music from an early age and has made great efforts to incorporate some features of qin technique in his guitar playing. He pointed out some unique features of qin pieces, including the use of harmonics, slides, the stopping of strings, and its unique rhythmic and structural ideas. His dreamy, glimmering improvisation of “Whales” showcased some great features of qin music, combined seamlessly with the harmonic structure and imagination of modern music.
Another of our special guests, Dr. George Shen, brought with him a very special account of the qin life of his mother, Madam T'sarTeh-Yun, a renowned qin player in Hong Kong, as well as a recent publication of Madam T'sar's elegantly written guqin scores and poems. A Ph.D. in finance, a movie director, and the editor of the biggest finance newspaper in Hong Kong, Dr. George Shen is himself a very interesting character. The meeting of Dr. Shen and Master Li after spending almost fifty years on different continents brought the gathering to a new height. Together, Dr. Shen and Master Li remembered Madam T'sarTeh-Yun's personal history with the guqin. Madam T'sar started playing guqin in her 30's and has since been playing for more than sixty years. Coincidentally, this year sees her hundredth birthday, making her the only living guqin master of her generation. Being a modest and sincere traditional Chinese lady, Madam T'sar has all her life refused to give public performances or make recordings for commercial purposes. Serving as an advisor for New-AsiaCollege, she refused to take monetary rewards for her work and insisted on the pure purpose of qin communication to make friends. The only official recording of her playing is a non-commercial demonstration for the BBC; the remaining recordings were all made by her students for learning purposes. Madam T'sar has contributed tremendously to the guqin world by her outstanding teaching and performing. Her influence on guqin music extended as far as Japan, as she is one of the few modern qin players to have visited the country.
Dr. Shen's account was followed by an equally significant narration by Master Yin Qiying on the Guqin Association in Beijing fifty years ago, including masters of the time, ZhaFuxi, PuXuezhai, and Wu Jinglüe. In view of the sad termination of the gatherings in Beijing, Master Yin was especially happy to see the number of qin friends present at this particular gathering in a foreign country. According to him, when he tried to explain his specialty fifty years ago, people used to think the guzheng was the “seven-string zither”, because although the “seven-string zither” (guqin) was so heavily featured in traditional literature and poems, few people had seen it in reality. He speculated optimistically that it is not unlikely that in another fifty years the guqin would see the same level of appreciation as the guzhengdoes now. He was very glad to see the qin gathering tradition being continued here in North America.