Life Here

February 10, 2023 By Carol Moore

Chinese Zither Music Bridges Years, Cultures

It may be hard to imagine riffs from Jimi Hendrix songs of the 1960s coming from a zither with a 2,500-year Chinese history. But that was just part of the entertainment when Melody Yan and the Oriental Dancing Group came to Rawlinson Hall on January 17. Wellness presented the program to celebrate the Chinese New Year. A graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Yan is a master of the 21-string, 64-inch-long zither, called a guzheng, andhas performed at United Nations’ headquarters and on national television. She began by demonstrating how the instrument can simulate gently 􀀁lowing streams as well as rolling thunder. Next came four traditional songs that accompanied the dancers. In succession, they wore pink and blue fluttering silk costumes with elaborate headpieces; matching red, black, and white sheaths with red fans; and more-modern outfits with mandarin collars and side slits. Two songs referred to the lantern festivals and family feasting enjoyed during New Year celebrations. Another described young women’s love, and the last told how an ancient military leader used guzheng music to distract and defeat a much larger enemy force. Then Yan, who is known for her East-West fusion techniques blending the rich tones of the West with the charm of the East, strummed and plucked haunting and foreboding selections from movies The Godfather and Clint Eastwood’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That was followed by Hendrix’s Voodoo Child and Yan’s interpretation of Queen’s We Will Rock You. Traditional red and gold envelopes with Year of the Rabbit fortune cards and goodie bags were handed out as the audience departed.


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