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Monday, December 17, 2018 5:11pm

5 Minutes With Li-Wei Qin

Li-Wei Qin - preferred headshot 2012 (credit Dong Wang).jpg

In the lead up to Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Chinese New Year Concert, Cellist Li-Wei Qin talks about what he loves about Chinese New Year and the differences in the musical approaches of China and Australia. 

The Chinese New Year Concert is at Festival Theatre Sun 10 Feb. Get your tickets here

What makes Chinese New Year so special?

I could write an essay about this, but in a nutshell it is a very special time of year, as it celebrates the importance of family.

How do you normally celebrate Chinese New Year?

When I was young in China, my family would meet and spend time together.  Now that we are all in different countries, it is more likely that we are in touch “digitally”, facetiming or with phone calls

Photo: Dong Wang

The concert will merge traditional Chinese style with contemporary music and aims to unites culture through the power of music? As a Chinese Australian how important do you feel a Chinese New Year concert is?

The beauty of music is that it has no boundaries in a time sense, and crosses over geographical boundaries.  A Chinese New Year concert in Australia is very important as it makes those people who have lived in China, or have a strong connection with the country, a sense of feeling at home, for the 3 days of celebration.  It also gives Australians an insight into one of the many celebrations of our very multicultural country.

Chinese New Year Concert 2018. Photo: Claudio Raschella

You perform across the globe, where do you call home?

I live in Singapore now, and my parents live in Melbourne, so I call both Singapore and Melbourne home, and also London and Shanghai, where I spend a lot of time performing.

What are some of the differences in musical approach across China and Australia? How will they compliment one another?

China is a very ancient country, and Australia is a relatively new country.  Chinese Western music has a very strong tradition heavily influenced by Russia and Germany.  Australia has a very open minded approach to music and music education.  The marrying of the two approaches works so well.

Describe your playing style?


The concert is conducted by Australian- Chinese conductor Dane Lam describe him as a Conductor?

I worked with Dane Lam recently in China.  He is a very sensitive and intelligent conductor.  We have a very similar approach to music, and we work very well together.

You were born in Shanghai and moved to Australia at the age of 11 and received the Young Australian of the Year Award in 2002. What has been your biggest obstacle as a young performer and how did you overcome it?

Actually I moved to Australia at aged 13. The biggest challenge as a young performer for me was adapting to a different culture.  I had to learn to understand the Australian perspective on music, which is much more open and freer than the way I was taught in China, which ,as I said earlier is steeped in tradition.

Chinese New Year Concert 2018. Photo: Claudio Raschella

You come from a musical background with your mother teaching you the piano from the age of 4 and your father teaching you the Cello from age 7, why did the Cello win out over the piano?

I felt a greater affinity with the cello because for me the register of the cello feels a bit more human perhaps.  I still play the piano, occasionally.

What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?

Musically, my biggest accomplishments have been playing at the BBC Proms, recording with the London Philharmonic, playing with the LA Philharmonic, and performing at the Beijing Olympics.

What kind of collaborative projects would you like to see China and Australia working on in the future?

China and Australia are great examples of mixed cultures embracing music.  Marrying of the old ancient tradition with an open minded approach is a great representation of East meets West. I hope we continue to see this collaboration.

2019 is the year of the pig, what is your Chinese zodiac? How synonymous is it with your personality?

My Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon, and I would like to think I represent it’s characteristics – brave and courageous.

You’re performed previously with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra what makes them unique?

I have also recorded with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, as well as played with then many many times.  I feel like I have grown up with this orchestra, and that it is my Australian musical family.  I know so many of the players.  It is the perfect musical reunion for Chinese New Year.

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