The Master of the Guqin: Chen Leiji


NEW YORK, January 20, 2018 — Chen Leiji, one of the world’s foremost exponents of the guqin, performs a rare concert at Asia Society New York. He is joined by special guests Sarah Tao He (erhu) and Guo Yazhi (suona). (42 min., 38 sec

Chen Leiji, one of the world’s foremost exponents of the guqin — a seven-stringed plucked zither that has been played in China for some 3,000 years — will perform a rare concert at Asia Society. With a background in both traditional Chinese and classical Western music, Chen brings a unique perspective to the music of the guqin. Since being chosen to perform at the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Chen has become a phenomenon on the international stage, performing solo and ensemble programs across the globe. His passionate performance style breathes new life into an instrument that was at the heart of traditional Chinese education. He will be joined by two special guest musicians, Sarah Tao He (erhu) and Guo Yazhi (suona). 

About the artists:

Chen Leiji, Guqin
Chen Leiji began studying guqin at the age of nine. He is the first guqin graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and the first student of guqin master Gong Yi. Chen Leiji also holds a graduate diploma in Orchestral Conducting from the Rheims Conservatory. His in-depth study of Chinese and Western musical traditions places him at a virtual point of confluence to establish a unity in the world even as we grow profoundly conscious of the treasures of its diversity. Chen has also contributed to creating several contemporary works, including Liu Yuan’s Youlan with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, and Luo Zhongrong’s Concerto for Guqin and Concerto for an Instrument of Silence with the Amsterdam Nieuw Ensemble.

Since his return to China, Chen has been teaching orchestral conducting at the Chinese Conservatory of Music and touring the world as a guqin soloist. He was chosen to play The Lost Sound of Antiquity, thought to be the most famous guqin piece, at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Sarah Tao He, Erhu

Sarah Tao He graduated with honors from the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1992. She started her musical career playing erhu and gaohu in the China Broadcast National Orchestra in Beijing. Between 1993-1996, she gave numerous solo performances at major concerts in Beijing and toured internationally. In 1999, He was signed as a contract artist by Expect Music Record Company. She started to explore different musical genres with the erhu. Ms. She joined the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in 2002, and performed as a soloist erhu player at many HKCO concerts and toured extensively in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. In 2012, He moved to Boston with her husband, the renowned suona musician Yazhi Guo, and their two daughters.


Guo Yazhi, Suona

Guo Yazhi has an active profile on the international concert stage, where he has won the accolade as “the number one suona  player.” He graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1990 and joined the faculty right after. Between December 1999 and 2011, he was the Principal Suona of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. He was awarded an Artist Diploma from the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2015.


Guo’s invention of a “flexible reed” on the suona won him a Class Two Award for Technological Advancement by the Ministry of Culture of China. In 1998, Guo was presented an International Pro Musicis Award at the Carnegie Hall in New York. As reported by the Overseas Chinese Daily, “he has taken an important first step in opening the door to the world for Chinese folk music.” Over the years, Guo has performed as a soloist with Western and Chinese orchestras from various countries and regions. He is a much sought-after player on the pop music scene as well, having appeared as a guest performer with many renowned musicians. Guo has transformed the suona into a contemporary instrument and was dubbed "China’s Louis Armstrong" by Boston Radio.


Presented in collaboration with the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations. 

Event Details

Sat 20 Jan 2018
7:30 - 9 p.m.

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Buy Tickets
$20 Members/$22 Students/Seniors/$25 Nonmembers
Add to Calendar 20180121T003000 20180121T020000 UTC Asia Society: The Master of the Guqin: Chen Leiji Asia Society 725 Park Avenue New York, NY 10021