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Violinist strings together anecdotes and classical music

By CHENG YUEZHU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-06 06:18

Chinese American violinist Chenyi Avsharian begins her 2024 tour at the Beijing Concert Hall on May 17. [Photo by Luo Wei/For China Daily]

In a lighthearted yet serene ambience, Chinese American violinist Chenyi Avsharian, formerly known as Chen Yi, shared the anecdotes behind each piece she was about to perform, in hopes of drawing the audience nearer to classical music and eliciting emotions deep within their hearts.

The Boundless Horizon violin recital on May 17 at the Beijing Concert Hall, with accompaniment by Hong Kong pianist Cheng Wai, marked the beginning of Avsharian's solo concert tour.

Launched in Beijing, the tour includes several other cities in China, including Shanghai, Shandong province's Weihai, Jiangsu province's Nanjing and Fujian province's Xiamen. The tour's finale will be held in October at Carnegie Hall in New York in collaboration with Sri Lankan pianist Rohan De Silva.

According to Avsharian, the recital's arrangement follows the style popular among violinists back in the 1910s, predominantly featuring technically demanding pieces. The program encompasses a wide range of music genres that showcase the violin's versatility.

Most of the selected pieces span from 1834 to 1982, covering over a century of music.

"Different historical epochs can share similar spirits and sometimes history can provide us with many answers to our lives. I've chosen this period of slightly more than 100 years that is neither too close nor too distant from us, hoping to offer some inspiration to everyone," she says.

Apart from classical music pieces written for the violin, the program features genres representing different countries and regions, including Summertime from Porgy and Bess, a jazz-inspired opera by American composer George Gershwin, Le Grand Tango by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, and Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower.

For this tour, she also adopts an unusual storytelling format. Before each piece, she introduces it and tells background stories to integrate music and storytelling and to offer the audience an enriched concertgoing experience.

"In this era of the internet and new media, people's attention spans are getting shorter and their interest in classical music might be waning," Avsharian says.

"I have meticulously prepared the background stories for each piece, hoping that through this approach, everyone can gain a deeper understanding of the life stories of the composers when they wrote them. I believe that each composition and each story has its unique highlight."

Her violin journey started under the guidance of her father Chen Yonggang. Later, she was recognized and taken in as a student by prominent violin educators including Lin Yaoji.

Avsharian adopts an unusual storytelling format for the tour. [Photo by Luo Wei/For China Daily]

As a young violinist, she garnered multiple awards, such as a silver prize at the sixth Chinese Golden Bell Award for Music in 2007 and a gold medal at the second China International Violin Competition in 2008.

Now 40 years old, she has been serving for 10 years as the chief operating officer of Shar Music, a US-based company supplying instruments and accessories.

"What moves people about her is not just her skilled technique. The delicate music and rich poetic tones give her performances a unique brilliance," says Li Xincao, a renowned conductor.

In the future, Avsharian hopes to bring more excellent music and better narratives to the audience, allowing them to see classical music from a different perspective.

"Many people may find classical music distant but in reality, many fascinating stories lie behind the pieces. So, I hope to use my meager strength to bring classical music closer to everyone," she adds.

"The violin is an instrument very close to life itself. I believe that if we use the violin to express our deepest emotions, everyone might find a serene corner within for self-reconciliation."

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