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Worthy envoy for the flute

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-06 09:44

Tang Junqiao Bamboo Flute Ensemble of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, founded in 2013, has 33 students from the middle school affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music and students of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Tang, who was 26 then, was approached by Chinese composer Tan Dun to perform on the soundtrack of Ang Lee's Oscar-winning martial arts movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in collaboration with erhu player Ma Xiaohui and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The movie won four Academy Awards, including for the Best Foreign Film and Best Original Score.

The collaboration enabled Tang to travel around the world to perform with internationally celebrated symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the German Bamberg Symphony and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

"The movie (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) provided me with lots of opportunities to communicate with musicians and to let me play Chinese music for the world," says Tang.

One of Tang's most frequently performed music pieces is Chou Kong Shan, a concerto for bamboo flute and a symphony orchestra.

Composed by Chinese musician Guo Wenjing, the concerto was rarely performed earlier because of its technical complexity.

But in August 2003, after leaving the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, Tang visited Guo in Beijing and told him that she wanted to play Chou Kong Shan in her solo recital in Shanghai two months later. Guo then told Tang that the symphonic portrait of Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai's portrayal of Sichuan was very demanding for a bamboo flute player due to the notes.

However, Tang practiced for more than 10 hours a day for two months and fulfilled her dream of presenting the work in Shanghai along with Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

In 2005, Tang performed Chou Kong Shan with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in the United States.

In its review of her performance, The Washington Post said: "Bamboo flutist extraordinaire Tang Junqiao displayed her virtuosity in a nearly unlimited breadth of timbres in Concerto for Bamboo Flutes and Orchestra by Guo Wenjing. In Junqiao's hands, the flute was capable of an enormous range of sounds: glissandos, soft trills, nasal buzz, birds and even wind. Her lightning technique in the allegro section made one think of a recording at fast-forward speed."

Now, Chou Kong Shan is not only one of her most well-known pieces, but also brought her love.

In 2009, Guo and Tang got married.

Today, besides being an ambassador for the Chinese bamboo flute, Tang also performs many of Guo's other pieces.

"He inspires me. I am so lucky to have this unusual life, which is brought about by music," she says.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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