China exchange program seeks to blend cultures

Chinese Culture

East meets West is more than a phrase. It’s the driving force behind a Chinese exchange program that hopes to bring cultures together through music. Acclaimed guzheng soloist Yuan Sha led the group’s recent performance in New York. CGTN’s Nina Edwards reports.

Guzheng is an ancient Chinese stringed instrument dating back 2,500 years. It’s an in instrument Yuan Sha began playing at the age of six.

“In today’s concert, we will perform several pieces, including Chun Jiang Hua Yue Ye,” Yuan said. This translates to “A Moonlit Night on the Spring River.”

“Introducing traditional Chinese music to a western audience, it is a great opportunity for cultural exchange between the East and the West,” she said.

Yuan is also a teacher at the China Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Some of her students accompanied her on the trip. She even got some help from American musicians.

“We also invited artists from the Juilliard School, who play violin, cello and harp in the concert,” she said.

Three years after learning to play the instrument, Yuan was accepted to China’s leading music school and has become one of the most important contemporary guzheng performers in the world. Back in 2007, she played at the annual Spring Festival Gala along with the Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Yuan also performed for U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to China in 2009. Throughout her training and career, she has learned that her music goes deeper than just mastering the instrument’s 20-plus cords.

“Music is not all about showing off skills; music is to express our feelings and thoughts. The music is the echo of your heart and mind,” she shared.

That’s just what Yuan displayed at Lincoln Center in New York, where she captivated a diverse crowd with her music, poetry, and grace. She ended the evening playing American songs on the centuries-old Chinese instrument.