As part of the public initiatives organized in the ambit of the 2019 Carlo Scarpa Prize, Liu Fang, an internationally celebrated artist held to be one of the world’s leading players of the pipa, the traditional Chinese lute, and of the guzheng, a twenty-one stringed Chinese zither, will perform a selection of pieces from her repertoire of traditional Chinese music in homage to the Tea Gardens of Dazhangshan. This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear her playing a full-length concert after the taster session during the prize-giving ceremony on 11 May and to learn more about some aspects of Chinese music culture.
The pipa is an instrument requiring great technical skill and awareness: the player plucks the strings with their right hand, using a plectrum or false nails, while their left hand presses the strings onto the frets to produce the desired tonality and pitch. A child prodigy, Liu Fang began to play at the age of six, making her debut as a solo performer at only nine.
This musician expresses the beauty and grace of traditional Chinese music with great sensitivity and spirituality. Her perfect technique and intense execution bring out the rich sounds of the pipa and guzheng, offering new interpretations of an ancient repertoire. She has also received high praise for her performances of contemporary music and was awarded the 2001 Future Generation Millennium Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts. Her performances have been met with increasing public acclaim over the years.
Born in 1974, in Kunming, in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan, Liu Fang received her diploma at the Shanghai Conservatory. In 1996, she moved to Montreal, Canada, and towards the end of the 1990s, she also became successful in the West. She collaborates with major international musicians and has made numerous recordings for radio and television as well as making numerous CDs.
Described by the media as the “greatest ambassadress of the art of the pipa” (La Presse), Liu Fang is known for “possessing virtuoso technique, grace and a unique empathy towards the music she plays whether it is a traditional and folk tune or a modern Western composition” (All Music Guide).
“My soul is behind every note,” says Liu Fang, who creates sound landscapes and speaks of painting to explain the silences: “in Chinese painting there are empty spaces that contribute to creating harmony. This allows the viewer to enter the image: as in a dialogue between two people, the silences and pauses offer an opportunity to create words. In the same way in music silence is the liaison between one note and the next, and the silence is full of music.”
During the concert on Sunday 12 May, Liu Fang will play pieces from a repertoire of ancient Chinese music, a number of contemporary compositions, and her own arrangements of traditional Chinese music.