The Yi Xiang Chaozhou Music Ensemble (China) offers a rare opportunity to hear traditional music of the Teochew people from eastern Guangdong. Comprised of preeminent upholders of Teochew music traditions from the Chaoshan region, the seven-piece ensemble will present a program of string-focused chamber music traditionally referred to as xianshi (“string poems”).
The event is free and open to the public.
The Chaozhou Chinese (a.k.a. Teochew) subculture, located in the eastern part of Guangdong, has one of the most vibrant folk instrumental ensemble traditions in China. Teochew men meet regularly in music clubs devoted to the performance of the wind-and-string ensemble tradition known as Chaozhou xianshi for their self-entertainment. In places throughout the world with large Teochew populations, one often finds music clubs—part of voluntary trade, religious, and lineage associations—in which Teochew musicians regularly perform as they would in their hometown. In her research on Chaozhou xianshi music, ethnomusicologist Dr. Mercedes Dujunco (HKUST) asserts that it is through xianshi performed in these music clubs that Teochew forge business alliances and networks, as well as affirm their Chaozhou Chinese regional identity in the face of increased contact and competition for business with other Chinese subgroups or foreign peoples in the places they have migrated to.
The seven members of the Yi Xiang Chaozhou Music Ensemble are some of the best musicians of Chaozhou xianshi music in the Chaoshan region. Made up of former professional, semi-professional, and non-professional musicians steeped in the Chaozhou regional folk music style, each player can perform on more than one instrument. Several of them have been officially recognized as inheritors and transmitters of Chaozhou xianshi as an intangible heritage at the national and regional level in mainland China. Their seamless ensemble playing has been honed through many years of performing Chaozhou xianshi together and with other Teochew from different music clubs all over the world.