Sooner or later, the truth had to come out. On Saturday afternoon, Wu Man finally admitted to the audience at Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert at the University Settlement that the qin player Zhao Jiazhen—her friend since their days at the Central Conservatory—is married to percussionist Li Congnong, co-founder of the Ba Da Chui percussion quartet. “I originally didn’t want to say anything,” Wu Man said after the performance. “but she kept saying, ‘Go ahead and tell them.’”
It explained not only how Ms. Zhao turned up on the program unannounced, but also why she played a duet with Mr. Li—a particularly silk roady kind of piece with obvious Muslim influences that was rather far afield from her own qin tradition (You can find a sample of that piece at the bottom of this post.) Good relationships are key to good music making everywhere—all the more so in China, where the system of business and social connections has long been codified in the term guanxi. More to follow on how guanxi has played a part in Carnegie Hall’s Chinese programming, but first a note about how the Lis spent their weekend offstage: Their 17-year-old son, currently a clarinet student at the Interlochen Arts Academy, came in from Michigan to spend the weekend with his parents.
Posted by Ken Smith
Excerpt from Spring Breeze
Zhao Jiazhen, qin; Li Congnong, percussion