A New Zealand er’ s Bilin­gual Mu­sic Jour­ney


Special Focus - - Contents - Bo Ning, Liu Chang 柏宁刘畅

Lau­rence Lar­son ( Chi­nese name Luo Yi­heng, mean­ing “eter­nal art” in Chi­nese), the bril­liant “Prince of the Elves” be­fore his au­di­ence, seems like a shy “boy next door” when he steps off the stage. When meet­ing the re­porter, he tried his best to ex­press him­self in Chi­nese, oc­ca­sion­ally switch­ing to English. “New Zealand is my home­town, but China is where my dream started.” His sin­cere love for China can be per­ceived.

Born in east­ern Auckland, New Zealand, Lau­rence has had a sea of Chi­nese friends since child­hood. At the age of ten, he fell in love with the gui­tar, and nat­u­rally took it up as his ma­jor at univer­sity. When it came time to select a mi­nor sub­ject, he thought of his Chi­nese friends. “When my friends got to­gether and I was the only for­eigner, they would chat in Chi­nese… I of­ten had no idea what they were talk­ing about, so I thought I should learn a lit­tle bit.”

A co­in­ci­dence led him to com­bine his mu­sic dream with China. “My friend’s mother was a singing teacher and once a guest at a singing con­test in Auckland. She in­vited me to par­tic­i­pate in the com­pe­ti­tion and sang Chi­nese songs, out of the blue. I lost my heart to those songs im­me­di­ately.”

In Lau­rence’s eyes, Western mu­sic pays the most at­ten­tion to rhythm while ori­en­tal mu­sic at­taches more im­por­tance to melody and lyrics. In ad­di­tion, when the lan­guage and melody of Chi­nese songs are in­te­grated, there is a spe­cial beauty. While pre­par­ing for the con­test, Lau­rence lis­tened to and stud­ied Chi­nese songs at­ten­tively and be­gan his mu­sic jour­ney be­tween the two lan­guages.

From then on, he trans­lated English songs into Chi­nese and vice versa, and up­loaded his own ver­sions to the in­ter­net. His songs at­tracted fans from all over the world.

Like many for­eign­ers in China, Lau­rence came across plenty of dif­fi­cul­ties at the be­gin­ning of his trip. The hard­est part was still the lan­guage bar­rier. “At first, it was to­tally im­pos­si­ble for me to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers.”

“You can’t be afraid of em­bar­rass­ment when learn­ing a new lan­guage. You just have to feel the awk­ward­ness.” Gone are those days. Now Lau­rence has al­ready learned to laugh at em­bar­rass­ment.

Sur­rounded by Chi­nese friends, he has com­pletely for­got­ten that he is from an­other coun­try, and he is fas­ci­nated by Chi­nese diet, cul­ture and life­style.

In 2016, Lau­rence par­tic­i­pated in the com­pe­ti­tion of the TV pro­gram SingMySong and was in the top six in Liu Huan’s group, suc­cess­fully at­tain­ing thou­sands of fans. When asked about his in­ter­na­tional suc­cess, he smiles and says, “Mu­sic is the most hon­est lan­guage we have, so use your mu­sic to share your story, and don’t try some­thing just to be a star or be on the stage. Don’t worry about com­pet­ing with other peo­ple; do what you want to do.”

In Novem­ber 2017, Lau­rence came to Wuhan as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to cel­e­brate New Zealand Cul­ture Week, bring­ing the song “Rewi” he wrote for Rewi Al­ley. He hoped that, like Rewi, he could also be­come a bridge of cul­tural ex­changes be­tween China and New Zealand.

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