In this very special and understated recital, we meet Dong Yi, internationally renowned zheng soloist, and experience the exquisite sound of the world's most popular Chinese instrument. This is a return visit to Edinburgh for Dong Yi, having performed here a great number of times in during her studies at the University of Edinburgh. She also has the great honour of having been the first female soloist to perform in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing.
The zheng, or zither, is a wooden stringed instrument, with eighteen or more strings, which has been recorded in Chinese history for more than two thousand years. It is laid flat on a stand, and played from a seated position. Dong Yi showed us the finger extensions she uses to strum, fixed in place with medical tape and sometimes removed for the softer pieces. Much like a harp and guitar combined, she runs her hands over the zheng with hypnotic skill.
We go through half a dozen solo pieces, some modern, others untouched by composers and left just as they were found in the folk tradition of the far corners of China. 'Spring Dawn on Snowy Mountain' is a beautiful Tibetan piece, said to welcome in the new season, and each song is steeped in history, which Dong Yi imparts with keen interest before commencing our musical ingratiation. With some traditions learned and history absorbed, we are then taken to the Tang Dynasty with excerpts from 'Princess Wencheng', the story of which is quite as fascinating as the music.
It is not, however, purely traditional music at the Glamour of Jasmine Chinese Arts Festival; on certain dates Dong Yi will be performing with Julia Somerville on the clarsach, and there will also be the opportunity to see her in joint recitals with Eddie McGuire at 'Music of Two Nations.'