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Musician improvises Nanyin opera to help keep it alive

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-11 09:48

"The beauty of Nanyin music, like traditional Chinese ink painting and calligraphy, is about the blank space. When I pause for a second or two during the singing, I am still expressing my emotions and portraying the character," Wang says.

"It's simple yet sophisticated. You need to be patient and focused to enjoy Nanyin music."

With her mother as a pipa (a four-stringed Chinese lute) maker and her father a big fan of Nanyin, it is not surprising that she was among the first group of students to major in Nanyin at Fujian Art School in 1984.

She moved to Taiwan in 1992, where she began fusing the ancient music with other art genres, such as modern dance and symphony orchestras, and performed around the world.

Musician improvises Nanyin opera to help keep it alive

In 2003, she founded Xinxin Nanguan Ensemble. In 2004, her album Nanguan Music and Poems from Tang Dynasty won the Golden Melody Award for the Best Ethnic Music Album.

The musician is also skilled in all four Nanyin instruments, namely pipa, xiao (the vertical flute), sanxian (long-necked lute), and erxian, (two-stringed instrument).

Renowned Taiwan choreographer Lin Hwai-min once said of Wang's performance: "When she begins to sing and play, we simply forget where we are."

Her improvisation of Nanyin music has received negative feedback from old Nanyin musicians, who said her performance departs from tradition.

She admits her performances contain lots of theatrical elements, such as lighting and stage design, which she feels is the only way Nanyin music can survive in the modern world.

Her next move is to popularize Nanyin as a form of music therapy. She is not aiming big, and hopes to appeal to those who can appreciate the music.

"Many people would sit there with their eyes closed. Though some of them cannot understand Fujian dialect, they can feel the mood, which is what I aim for," she says.

Musician improvises Nanyin opera to help keep it alive

Musician improvises Nanyin opera to help keep it alive

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