From 23 till 25 August 2004, city Yangzhou was the host of the 5th International Guzheng Conference (photos). Attendees included honorable guzheng masters, teachers, students, guzheng manufacturers, press, and Yangzhou city officials.

Lunlun Zou with Xu Zhen Gao

Lunlun Zou was also present, as this was a very important event of the guzheng world and an opportunity to meet face to face with friends and colleagues, exchange ideas, share experiences and opinions. Equally inspiring was to meet with guzheng manufacturers from Yangzhou, Shanghai and other parts of China, see and touch their latest products and talk about the intricacies of guzheng manufacturing.

Lunlun Zou was exhilarated to meet with Master Xu Zhen Gao who is often refered to as the father of guzheng.

Lunlun Zou addresses the conference
Lunlun took the opportunity and toured the Yayun Guzheng Ltd. and the Feitian Ltd. factories of Yangzhou, where many of today’s guzheng instruments are manufactured. She shared with them her opinion about the state of the market, customer needs and gave ideas about possible improvements. Because of her unusual playing style, Lunlun has much stricter requirements for guzheng than most other musicians. The director of Yayun Ltd., Mr. Liu, was thankful to Lunlun for providing valuable insight.

Echos of the Cultural Revolution

It may seem, that news has difficulty to travel into remote areas of China. Perhaps some people weren’t told that the Cultural Revolution has ended, perhaps it’s impossible to undo the damage to brainwashed minds.

It felt eerie, as if someone has wound the clock 40 years back into time China cannot be proud of. In fact, what happened was only a proof that destructive effects of the Cultural Revolution live on.

During the guzheng playing demonstrations on the first day of the Conference, the ninth participant came to the stage and introduced himself humbly with tremulous voice and frightened expression in his face: “My name is Gao Baijian. I am from Nanhai county of Guangdong Province. I am nobody. I am not an expert in playing guzheng. I am only an amateur and I haven’t received any professional training. However, last year I had a sudden inspiration to compose a song ‘Homesick’. Today I will demonstrate my incompetence before you. Every expert, scholar, professor, classmate and comrade, please criticize me!” Then he deeply bowed and with tremulous hands proceeded playing .

Extraordinary Performance

Lunlun Zou with Mr. Liu, the director of Yayun Ltd.
In the guzheng playing sessions of the conference, many scholars and experts demonstrated their skills and shared anything they thought worthwhile and interesting.

On 23 August, Ms. Su Xiuxiang from Taiwan and her students had shown four-hand playing (face-to-face on a single guzheng). Although their performance “Lake Music” wasn’t without fault, they demonstrated a valid approach, especially useful when there is a shortage of instruments.

Many speakers presented their papers during lectures. Some scholars believe that the teaching and playing of guzheng should not remain stagnant, but rather evolve naturally. The extraordinary performance by Lunlun Zou was a good demonstration of highly evolved playing style. On 25 August Lunlun Zou stood in front of the audience and played only to be frequently applauded. Many people were moved and commented: “It is very exciting to see Master Zou’s show. This is the most beautiful, and touching performance we have seen in a long time.”

Free Guzheng Lesson

Lunlun’s performance at the Conference on 25 August also made a tremendous impression on 9-year old guzheng student Panting from Baoying near Yangzhou. Panting has decided she must meet with Lunlun Zou in person. She has started searching the exhibition rooms at the conference, all nearby restaurants and hotels. Finally, 4 hours later, she discovered Lunlun having tea in the lobby of the New World hotel. Panting approached Lunlun and asked her for a short lesson. Lunlun agreed and spent over an hour with Panting . At the end of the lesson Lunlun Zou agreed to become Panting’s long distance teacher and give her free lessons over the Internet.

Lunlun performs at the Yangzhou Conference

Guzheng lesson with Panting (2004)

Photos from this event can be seen here.