Two evenings of Chinese traditional music

Last December (2015), Barcelona’s Conservatori Municipal de Música hosted two sessions of Chinese traditional music, the first one devoted to the silk and bamboo music genre and the second one to jingju (Beijing opera). For this occasion, two music formations based in London were invited, the Silk & Bamboo Ensemble and the UK-Chinese Opera Association. Each of them offered a presentation of their respective music genre, explaining its main characteristics and demonstrating some aspects of it, and afterwards a full performance. This event was the result of the joint efforts of several local institutions, namely Barcelona Confucius Institute Foundation, Casa Asia, the Conservatori Municipal de Música de Barcelona, CompMusic and the Phonos Foundation. You can find the hand programmes (in Spanish) for these events in the links below, and the corresponding videos in this Youtube list.


Dec 10: Silk and Bamboo Music

Silk and bamboo music is a genre of instrumental ensemble music from South China. Traditionally, musicians of string (silk) and wind (bamboo) instruments met at tea houses to leisurely play a repertoire of simple melodies that are however performed with very intricate and elaborated ornamentations by each of the participants, resulting in a characteristic heterophonic texture, and increasing gradually in tempo. The Silk and Bamboo Ensemble was founded in 1998 in London by Chinese professional musicians based in the UK. Its goal is the promotion of the silk and bamboo repertoire in the UK and Europe, but also of the traditional repertoires for each of the instruments in the ensemble, as well as new compositions and arrangements, some of them made by the members of the Ensemble.

Presentation on silk and bamboo music

In their visit to Barcelona, Ms Cheng Yu, founder member ensemble, gave a presentation on this music genre. She presented each of the instruments played, which were demonstrated by the ensemble members, and also the main characteristics of this traditional music, also illustrated with short demonstrations by each of the performers.

Silk and bamboo music concert

After the presentation, the four members of the Silk & Bamboo Ensemble offered a concert that included group and solo pieces. The program was designed to showcase different regional and historic styles, including traditional and newly composed pieces.

  1. 《夕阳箫鼓》 Flute and Drum at Sunset (pipa, guzheng, erhu, xiao)
  2. 《雨打芭蕉》 Raindrops on Banana Leaves (gaohu, dizi, pipa, guzheng)
  3. 《秦桑曲》 Song of the Qin Mulberry (guzheng)
  4. 《二泉映月》 Moonlight Reflected in the Second Spring (erhu)
  5. 《阳春白雪》 White Snow in Sunny Spring (pipa)
  6. 《姑苏行》 Journey to Gusu (dizi)
  7. 《月光下的凤尾竹》 Fernleaf Bamboo under the Moonlight (hulusi)
  8. 《流水》 Flowing Water (guqin)
  9. 《欢乐歌》 Song of Happiness (erhu, dizi, pipa, guzheng)
  10. 《瑶族舞曲》 Dance of the Yao People (erhu, dizi, pipa, guzheng)
  11. Encore: 《茉莉花》 Jasmine Flower

The members of the Silk & Bamboo Ensemble are:

  • Chen Dacan 陈大灿, erhu and gaohu
  • Cheng Yu 程玉, pipa and guqin
  • Liu Menglin 刘梦林, dizi, xiao and hulusi
  • Xiao Ran 潇然, guzheng


Dec 11. Night of jingju (Beijing opera)

Jingju is one of the most acclaimed and developed forms of Chinese traditional performing arts. For many Chinese people, jingju, or other local forms, are deeply rooted in their culture and identity, and carry it to wherever they migrate. This is the case of the members of the London based UK-Chinese Opera Association. It brings together Chinese opera lovers, most of them Chinese nationals now living in the UK, including professional musicians, amateur performers or just good aficionados. They aim at maintaining alive their passion for this art form in the UK, by organising concerts or informal singing gathering, but they are also active in the promotion of this art in that country and Europe, giving lectures, workshop and training lessons. Last December 11th, six of their members came to Barcelona to offer a presentation and a dressed performance of jingju.

Presentation “Towards Understanding Peking Opera (Jingju)”

Kathy Hall, actress of jingju and kunqu, offered a presentation on jingju, in which she explained the main characteristics of this art form, from its historical formation, the stage setting and movements, and the main role types. She also very demonstrated two acting techniques, the skilful use of the “golden fan” and the beautiful movements of the water sleeves. To conclude the presentation, Kathy Hall invited the musicians of the group to introduce and briefly demonstrate their instruments.

An evening of jingju

After the presentation, two actors of the UK-Chinese Opera Association offered a dressed performance of an aria and a full scene of two traditional jingju plays, accompanied live by the musicians of the Association.

  1. Aria: “大雪飘扑人面”《野猪林》 “Snow storm falling in my face”, from the play The Forest of the Wild Boars
  2. Instrumental Interlude:
    • 《京郊行》 Walking in the Beijing Countryside (jinghu)
    • 《月光下的凤尾竹》 Fernleaf Bamboo under the Moonlight (hulusi)
  3. Scene: 《四郎探母·坐宫》“At the Palace”, from the play The Fourth Son Visits His Mother

The members of the UK-Chinese Opera Association that took part in this event are:

  • Kevin Zhang 张克蔚, laosheng actor
  • Ming Lu 吕鸣, dan actress
  • Kathy Hall李惠馨, speaker in the presentation
  • Joanna Zenghui Qiu 邱增慧, jinghu and hulusi
  • Qi Zhang 张旗, yueqin
  • Haishuo Liu 刘海朔, percussion


For each of these events the audience filled the Auditori Eduard Toldrà in the Conservatori Municipal de Música. Both presentations and specially the concert and the jingju performance were received warmly by the audience, who gave a good round of applause.