World Music Series

Yangqin Zhao

Yangqin Soloist

Yangqin Zhao, prophetically named after the instrument she has become famous for playing, has established herself as one of the foremost yangqin (Chinese dulcimer) performers in the world. Critics have praised the quality of her playing, comparing the surging momentum and tonal effect to that of a virtuoso piano performance. Soloist of Melody of China, she has been elected to the prestigious Chinese Musicians Association and the Chinese Nationalities Orchestra Society.

Showing promise at an early age, she studied yangqin under Professor Qian Fang-Ping of the Nanjing Arts College. In 1982, she graduated with honors from Nanjing Normal University's music department and eventually became head of the faculty of instrumental music of that university. 1982 was the year the Peoples' Republic of China, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, held the first nationwide competition for folk music instrumentalists, open to any one of China's more than a billion inhabitants. The contest was for performance on any folk instrument. Yang-Qin Zhao, playing her namesake instrument, the hammered dulcimer, won the nation's highest award. Later, her performance of the Yellow River Boatmen Song, rearranged from a well-known piano piece, was recorded commercially in Shanghai.

From 1984 to 1986, Yang-Qin attended the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to study her instrument further under Professors Shengmao Hong and Mingqing Guo. At this time she ventured into new musical areas seeking innovative techniques to expand performance possibilities while retaining the pure, native characteristics of the traditional yangqin instrument.

In 1987 and 1991, she performed in the Jiangsu Province Arts Festival and won First Prize on both occasions. In 1987, Yang-Qin Zhao attended the Fourth National Congress of Chinese Musicians as the youngest musician in attendance. Her profile appears in the "Who's Who in Young Chinese”; published in 1990 and "The Chinese Musicians Yearbook" of the same year. In 1992 her name was listed in both "Who's Who in Musicians of Jiangsu Province" and also "Who's Who in Jiangsu Educators".

Ms. Zhao has been invited to perform in many countries, including Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico and Germany, where she has lectured at universities, conservatories and music schools. In an excerpt from CHIME Newsletter by Frank Kouwenhoven, Secretary-general of the European Foundation for Chinese Music Research, he notes:" I was impressed not only by her high technical standard of playing but also the strong musical feeling she displayed during performance and by her friendly and modest character." In June of 1996, she was invited as one of seven musicians who are masters on the Yangqin – like instruments for the Tanz & Folk Fest Rudolstadt (Folk Instruments Festival) in Germany. In September, 1996, she performed as the yangqin soloist with Shanghai Ethnic Orchestra. In June 2000, she was invited to perform at the "Concert in the Wild Stage" by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Berlin, Germany.