After her last sell-out concert organised by the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Xue Fei Yang promised to return. She will also repeat one of her few Master Classes, a unique opportunity for every guitarist to get a lesson from what The Strad magazine calls “a most impressive advocate for her instrument.”
Xue Fei Yang had to fight to become a guitarist. She was born in China 1977 following the Cultural Revolution, during which no Western music or instruments were allowed. She started playing at the age of 7 and at the age of ten she made her first public appearance at the China International Guitar Festival. She received such acclaim that she decided to make it her career eventually. Her parents did not approve of her choice as they felt it would not provide a secure future for their daughter. How wrong they were.
She became the first ever guitarist in China to enter a music school and became the first to launch an international career. Xue Fei Yang was also the first Chinese student to be awarded an international scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and is now honoured by the title Associate of the Academy.
So far she has performed in over forty countries and in 2003 she took part in fifty- four concerts for the “Night of the Proms” tour playing to a combined audience of 800,000. Xue Fei Yang has also played with the finest orchestras in the world and many of the leading conductors.
And now she comes to Dulwich. She will start her programme by playing Bach’s Violin Sonata, which Fei has transcribed herself for guitar. In a recent interview with Classic FM she admitted that she loves Bach. “He is the greatest Baroque composer and I am sure that he would have written for the guitar, if it had existed then. He did write for the lute after all.”
EMI has recently launched a disc with Bach Concertos, all transcribed by Xue Fei Yang. It took her a year, “but it was very enjoyable and I learnt a lot of details about Bach’s music.” In her Dulwich concert she will also play works by De Falla, Villa-Lobos and Barrios. The evening’s programme might not contain any Chinese works, but there will be a Chinese touch to the proceedings. Wedding Trikes will provide Chinese finger food to buy during the long interval. And the concert goers may bring their own wine.
In China Xue Fei Yang is seen as a musical pioneer. “I never think about it. All I wanted to do was to play my guitar,” she said to Classic FM. She did admit, though, that she feels privileged to be a role model for young musicians, both in China and outside. “I never had a role model myself.”
The Master Class takes place in the afternoon of the day of the concert. “Some come to learn, others just to listen,” says Judy Mewburn, the concert organiser. “Last time was an electric occasion and I specially remember a fourteen year old boy from Ghana, who turned out to be a star. It is really a unique opportunity to learn from the best.”
At the concert Xue Fei Yang will play a Smallman guitar – maybe it is one of the two given to her by that other star guitarist John Williams, when he first heard her play in Beijing?
Saturday 26 May at 6.30 pm
St. Barnabas Parish Hall, 23 Dulwich Village.
Tickets: £17, £15 Friends, includes a glass of fizzy wine. Available at the Friends Desk at Dulwich Picture Gallery, by phone 020 8299 8750 or via email: email@example.com.
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Please ring Judy Mewburn on 020 8699 1878 or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the Master Class, costs £15.