Profile: London based Pipa and Guqin virtuoso Cheng Yu

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At the London Coliseum
At the London Coliseum

Cheng Yu is an internationally renowned pipa and guqin virtuoso. Born to an artistic family in Beijing, she grew up in the Gobi desert in Gansu, Northwest China where her family had been exiled during the Cultural Revolution.

Yu has been based in London for many years and has performed over 600 concerts and toured world-wide. She plays, records and researches widely on traditional and contemporary Chinese music as well as cross-cultural music collaborations in the UK, Europe and other places.

In her recent project in 2005, she successfully re-created a modern version of the lost Tang Dynasty five-stringed pipa, based on the study of old Tang dynasty pipas and lutes from the East Asian cultures.

She is the founder of the UK Chinese Ensemble in 1994 and the London Youlan Qin Society in 2003.

Cheng Yu will be joined onstage by two more renowned artists whose background strongly shapes their creative practice here in London. Maya Youssef studied kanun in her native Damascus. Since moving to London she has appeared at the Royal Albert Hall and frequently collaborates with cross-genre artists such as the Elysian Quartet or the Syrian Female Orientale Group which she founded in 2003 along five of her colleagues. Maya performs her own compositions with influences of Syrian folk, Turkish and Arabic classical traditions. Hyelim Kim performs the taegum flute, a traditional bamboo flute of her native Korea and is a regular with our resident band Notes Inégales. She has performed with the likes of Nils Frahm or Lubomyr Melnyk and continues to research on her native country’s traditional music at SOAS London.

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