Few play­ers are able to sing the old tunes now. This is what prompted me to look for the old tunes.”

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - Guqin Tower guqin Climb­ing Yueyang guqin guqin Con­tact the writer at fan­gaiqing@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

which were orig­i­nally com­posed with lyrics of po­ems in an­cient China.

The lat­ter half of the con­cert com­prised pieces by re­cent Chi­nese com­posers, such as Zhao Jip­ing, Xi Qim­ing, Wang Di, Yang Yibo and the late Liu Wen­jin, which com­bine lyrics from an­cient po­ems with mod­ern melodies.

“Few play­ers are able to sing the old tunes now. This is what prompted me to look for the old tunes. It’s my duty to act as a bridge to take them to a wider au­di­ence,” says Fang, 52.

Her con­cert tour, which started in Shang­hai last year, is a re­sult of years of re­search and ex­plo­ration.

Ex­plain­ing how the po­ems were set to mu­sic, Fang says that in an­cient times, in­tel­lec­tu­als gath­ered at a site with great view, and in­spired by the scenery they would com­pose po­ems, play the and sing.

To bring the po­ems and old tunes back to life, Fang and her team vis­ited ex­perts on mu­si­col­ogy and clas­si­cal po­etry to re-cre­ate pieces that could be put on stage.

Shi Peng, 93, a Chang­shabased ex­pert on an­cient po­ems, was in­vited to the con­cert to re­cite

by Du Fu, a Tang Dy­nasty (618-907) poet.

Fang, who’s from Yueyang, Hu­nan prov­ince, says when she was young, she used to see old peo­ple paint­ing, writ­ing po­ems and do­ing recita­tions at Yueyang Tower, one of the best-known her­itage sites in the city.

“But I did not un­der­stand the mean­ing then,” says Fang.

So, on learn­ing that young peo­ple in Tai­wan had or­ga­nized po­etry clubs and were do­ing recita­tions in the Min­nan di­alect, Fang was in­spired to pro­mote po­etry recita­tion by com­bin­ing mu­sic with po­etry.

Shi, who was glad to per­form at the Bei­jing con­cert, says: “I’m here to prove that po­etry recita­tion is part of our his­tory.”

Jiang Ji­ak­eng, a Bei­jing­based singer in his 80s, was also at the con­cert, per­form­ing his best-known pieces.

Jiang has en­joyed the ex­quis­ite tones and dic­tion of an­cient Chi­nese po­ems. He be­gan record­ing songs based on them with the in the 1970s.

“I’ve recorded hun­dreds of them, but I got very few op­por­tu­ni­ties to per­form be­cause peo­ple rarely lis­tened to this form of mu­sic then,” he says.

How­ever, the re­vival of old tunes played with and the cre­ation of new com­po­si­tions us­ing an­cient po­ems as lyrics has helped.

“The fad is spread­ing nowa­days, es­pe­cially in uni­ver­si­ties,” he says.

And this mu­sic form is now part of the cur­ricu­lum of vo­cal mu­sic pro­fes­sion­als.

Liu Hui, the di­rec­tor of the Shenyang Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic, says it is a pri­or­ity to sing tra­di­tional mu­sic pieces well and such old tunes are among the five tra­di­tional styles that all pro­fes­sional stu­dents learn and sing in univer­sity class­rooms.

Fang says she will pub­lish a text­book on the mu­sic form. singer

Speak­ing of how she got in­volved with the mu­sic form, she says: “I started learn­ing old tunes in my col­lege years (in the 1980s). But, I fi­nally de­cided to start a pro­gram to pro­mote it as I am at an age where I am able to en­joy the lone­li­ness of the aca­demic world.

“My life ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der­stand­ing of art and lit­er­a­ture is also able to sup­port my work.

“And what I am do­ing is also chang­ing my mind­set. I am more calm now, both in life and at work.”


Fang Qiong per­forms at a Bei­jing con­cert, which fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of clas­si­cal Chi­nese po­etry and mu­sic.

Shi Peng, a Chang­sha-based ex­pert on an­cient Chi­nese po­etry, re­cites a poem at the Bei­jing con­cert. Fang Qiong,

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