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Sounds and Sweet Airs that give Delight and hurt not

“Sounds and Sweet Airs that give Delight and hurt not”

Shakespeare , as usual, thus aptly described Hamilton Mayor’s monthly Friday lunchtime concert at the Civic Reception Lounge recently.

The concert, introduced by Hamilton Mayor, Judie Hardaker, was given by two very talented Chinese musicians, Chen Xiyao (Yao) and Zhang Yi (Johnny), who delighted the audience with sometimes exciting, sometimes ethereal music on two traditional Chinese instruments, the Chinese zither guzheng and two-stringed erhu.

Yao and Johnny took it in turns to play their instruments, concluding with a piece for both instruments.

The first piece, played on the guzheng, described the happy atmosphere of the people when the harvest is being taken in. The second was especially written for the erhu and took the audience on a trip to Mongolia’s grasslands for the horse races, skilfully showcasing the horse races, where the horsemen compete for power and excellence.

Several more pieces took the audience on a fascinating journey through the remote areas of China delighting them with both traditional and modern compositions.

The monthly Mayoral concerts are generally played by Hamilton University students and are very popular. But this concert was to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Sister City Signing with Wuxi and Hamilton and after the concert, members of the audience went up to examine the fascinating instruments, being so foreign to Europeans.

Chen Xiyao (Yao), was born and raised into a very well-known traditional musical family from Beijing, his grandfather composed many pieces and was a guzheng master and his mother is a guzheng professor with a “National First Rank” title in China.  Yi Zhang learned the Erhu at eight years and was the last disciple of the great master, Shen Fengquan, a topmost Chinese performer.

Yao is a member of the New Zealand Chinese Friendship Society, Hamilton branch, and has a long-term intention of making Chinese traditional music known throughout New Zealand. So far he seems to be achieving his goal.

For a pdf biopic of Chen Xiyao and Zhang Yi, click here.

Teri France