Dong Yi in Zheng RecitalDong Yi, an Edinburgh University economics graduate, is to give a concert at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing. Dong Yi will Zheng (筝), a traditional Chinese music instrument, accompanied by China Philharmonic Orchestra. Glamour of Jasmine will be the first time a female musician playing a traditional Chinese instrument to give a solo performance at the Great Hall of the People.

Only 25 years old, Dong Yi is a prominent musician in China and has many years of Zheng performance experiences. She is now studying a master degree in London School of Economics and Political Science.

Mini-biography of Dong Yi:

Born in Nov 1982, Yi Dong became the youngest ever member of Chinese Musicians’ Association, the highest institute of Chinese musicians in May 2004. Two years later, she was honoured to be one of the Directors of the Academy of Chinese National Instruments. Her social scientific qualifications include Joint-degree MA (Hons) in Economics and Economic History at the University of Edinburgh 2002/6, and MSc in China in Comparative perspective (Anthropology) at the London School of Economics and Political Science 2006/7 (supervised by Prof. Stephan Feuchtwang). In 2004/5, she visited the University of Hong Kong on scholarship as a representative student from the University of Edinburgh, U.K.

Yi Dong began systematic lessons on zheng, the most popular Chinese national instrument, at the age of seven. When she was ten, she was honoured to become the last pupil of Prof. Cao Zheng, the “Father of Modern Chinese Zheng”. Meanwhile, she has also learnt from over a dozen of masters and professors of Chinese zheng performance at many prestigious conservatories of music in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Lanzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, China, as well as several great masters in the fields of music composition, conducting and film production over the world.

She gave her first public performance at 8, won her first national prize at the age of 13 and obtained the Highest Certificate of Zheng Performance awarded by China Central Conservatory of Music at 14. Since 1999, China Record Corporation has published three of her albums. At the age of 18, Yi Dong joined the production of an experimental music art film The Eternal Sorrow of Lin’an, which was filmed to research the blending of musical performance and film production, with several prestigious Chinese artists in 2001 and she acted the role of the heroine and soloist of this film. This work was credited as “a milestone of Chinese music video history” by China Central Television and China Xinhua News Agency immediately after its publication and it won Award for the Best Music Art Film and Yi Dong won the only New Generation Award of the Committee in 21st Century Budapest International MTV Art Festival in May 2003. Yi Dong has strived for the fusion of Chinese and western music in recent years. Her 2003 symphonic zheng recital in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall (SunYat-sen Concert Hall) and Beijing University have been considered as the first ever whole-concert illustration of the collaboration of zheng and symphony orchestra, and it received a very positive response from the audience. She has given over a dozen public recitals in several major concert halls and festivals in both China and the west, including the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing (2003), Beijing University (2003), the Tian-han Concert Hall in Changsha (2005), the Jin-Cheng Theatre in Lanzhou (2004), the Fringe of Edinburgh International Festival 2002, 2003 International Music Day Scotland and 25th Edinburgh International Harp Festival (2006), and she was elected as “the favourite performer” by the audience in 2003 International Music Day Scotland. She has also given an extensive amount of performances in the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh (2003), the University of Edinburgh (2003), Edinburgh College of Art (2006), London School of Economics and Political Science (2006-7), the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries based in Beijing (2005), the General Consulate of P.R. China in Edinburgh (2006), The General Consulate of Austria in Hong Kong SAS, China (2005), 21st Century Budapest International MTV Art Festival (2003), and the Fringe of Edinburgh International Festival 2006, China Investment Forum by Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of China in chief (2006), the 2007 Chinese New Year Gala by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association–U.K. etc.

She also shared the stage with many internationally prestigious musicians, to name but a few, Composer HE Zhan-hao, Conductor HU Bing-xu, Pianist LIU Shi-kun and Composer & Flute Player Edward McGuire, etc and rising stars such as Composer, Erhu Performer YU Hong-mei, Clarsach (Scottish Harp) Player & Vocalist Katie Targett-Adams and Maeve GilChrist, Celloist & Yangqin Player Ip Kim Ho, etc. World celebrated Chinese composers such as HE Zhan-hao, Zhu Xiao-gu and Zhou Yu-guo, etc have composed and arranged quite a few works for her since 2000. Many internationally renowned media organisations have interviewed her and broadcast her performances, including BBC World Service, BBC 4, China’s Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television, China National Radio, China’s People’s Daily, The People’s Music, International Cultural Exchange, The Scotsman, TVB (Hong Kong, China), and many more. The report of her music art film of The Eternal Sorrow of Lin’an by Xin Hua News Agency was recommended to over 300 media organisation across China. Since 2005, Yi Dong has actively participated in the establishment of the first Confucius Institute in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, which was jointly announced by China’s Education Minister ZHOU Ji and Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell in April 2006. And her voice is now available at the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh.

She also has great interests in the field of Chinese literature. She twice obtained national prizes on Chinese literature composition and she was honoured Excellent Candidate by the Youth Writers Class of Luxun Literature Institute, Chinese Writers’ Association in 1999. In January 2002, the literature collection of her high school the Experimental High School attached to Beijing Normal University editted by her in chief was published by Kaiming Publisher.

Instrument Introduction–Zheng

As the most popular national instrument in China, zheng (also known as gu-zheng) is one of the eldest Chinese string instruments with a history of at least 2,500 years. About 1,400 years ago, Chinese zheng culture spread overseas and it has produced profound influence over the music of Japan, Korea, South Korea and Mongolia, etc. In recent dozens of years, the production and performing theories of zheng have witnessed rapid development and many musicians over the world have studied and done research on Chinese zheng performance. It could be said that where there are Chinese, there is the sound of zheng.

Zheng was named according to its sound effect. It is mainly a solo instrument, but is also used in instrumental ensemble and accompaniment for various Chinese operas. It is usually tuned in pentatonic scale. Initially, it had twelve or thirteen strings, and later fifteen or sixteen. In modern times, the usual zheng has twenty-one strings, and mechanical tuning devices were introduced which made it capable of twelve pitches. The main body of the instrument is a rectangular wooden box with three sound holes underneath. Above the upper board, there are strings with equal margin and tuning bridges under each string. Performers use both hands to pluck the strings and the left hand to press the section which is to the left of the bridges. Fingernail extensions are commonly used to pluck the strings.

– Dong Yi