Q & A with Bejing Guitar Duo

According to their website: “The Beijing Guitar Duo, composed of Meng Su and Yameng Wang, is widely noted for its outstanding technique and artistic musicality.

Ms. Su and Ms. Wang first met at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, where they both studied with the acclaimed professor Chen Zhi. The Beijing Guitar Duo was formally established at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2008 at the encouragement of their mentor Manuel Barrueco.”

Sounds great to me.  I imagine these ladies will put on a fine performance.  Please let me know if anyone who attends and is willing to forward a concert program or write a synopsis for the blog.

Beijing Guitar Duo is presented by the Chicago Classical Guitar Society

Their debut CD “Maracaípe” is available which features Aquarelle written by Sergio Assad and dedicate to the Beijing Duo.

When: April, 9 @ 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lutkin Hall, Northwestern University

Cost: $22

Q & A with Meng Su (of BGD)

You will be performing in Chicago.  Have you been to Chicago before?  (if so, when was the last time and what do you remember?)  Is this where you met Sergio Assad?

We’ve never played in Chicago before.  So,  this will be our first concert in the area.

Sergio Assad has dedicated a duo for you, as I understand it, called “Maracaípe“.  Can you tell us about the piece?  How it is to perform?  What it means to be acknowledged by Mr Assad, an outstanding virtuoso in his own right?

Maracaípe is a famous beach in Brazil. The composer went there for a vacation and was inspired by the beauty.  This two movement piece is a portrait of the beach scene: the waves, the surfers and even the crab-walk.  It is such a beautiful piece and it’s fun to play!The Assad brothers has always been our idols in duo playing.  We both love Sergio’s music.   It is an honor having him write a piece for us.  He even did the liner notes for our CD!

In your formal training in China, what is musical training like in China?  We hear of stories of children being separated from their parents and such.  Can you explain what the process is like?

It depends on what one wants (to accomplish).  Of course, you can learn an instrument just for pleasure but If you are hoping for a music career in the future which lots of people are, you’ve got to start with many lessons and go to a good music school (In China, the best music institutions like the Central Conservatory have students starting attendance from the 4th grade) and there are very few available spaces in the program compare to the number of applicants.   So, you can imagine the competition.

Mr Barrueco has said about your playing, “They have impeccable technique, and they’re very musical.”.  These are great  compliments coming from a guitarist most of us think of when ‘technique’ is mentioned.  How can you top that?  Does having such a reputation drive your ambition further?

Mr.Barrueco has been helping us to refine our technique but musicality is what he talks about, all the time.  He’s really an amazing teacher who always leads us to find the best way possible.  As we get better and better, we realize there is still so much more to learn.  But with his help, we will focus on the music and try to play our best for people. 

Do you travel home to China often?

Pretty much once in a year in the summer.

Is the classical music culture different there than the west?  It seems not-so-long-ago when the cultural ban was lifted and western music was allowed by the communist Chinese government.

When we started to learn the guitar the whole environment was ok. It had been years since the guitar was allowed and there were no restrictions, whatsoever.  But back then, there were very few guitar concerts.  It is better nowadays but there still needs to be more (guitar concerts & resources).   Not to mention the difficulties on buying music scores.

It must be very exciting to have such wonderful accolades & reviews from your guitar teachers and press.  Do you ever lose your enthusiasm for learning more on the instrument?  how do you or what do you do to keep your interest and enthusiasm?

Never, ok, never more than once per day.  The guitar is a fascinating instrument.  There is repertoire from different times and styles you can learn and enjoy.  As for us, we play solo, in duo & in trio with Mr.Barrueco, concertos.  There are many different things to practice, which leaves us no time to get bored.

Program

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

  • Chaconne (from Violin Partita No.2 in D Minor, BWV 1004) arr.for two guitars by Ulrich Stracke

Mario Castilnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)

  1. Sonatina Canonica, Op. 196

Sergio Assad (1952)

  • Meng Su solo:  Divertimento, Valseana , Preludio e Toccatina

Intermission

Carlo Domeniconi (1947)

  • Yameng Wang solo: The Bridge of the Birds

Sergio Assad (1952)

  • Maracaipe:
  1. I  Wistful Rider
  2. Crab Walk

Radames Gnattali (1906-1988)

  • Suite Retratos
  1. Pixinguinha (Choro)
  2. Ernesto Nazareth (Valse)
  3. Anacleto de Madeiros (Schottisch)
  4. Chiquinha Gonzaga (Corta Jaca)

Video

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