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Prof. Li Xiangting (Chinese: 李祥霆; pinyin: Lǐ Xiángtíng) is considered one of the master players of the guqin. He was born in Liaoyuan, Jilin in 1940. At an early point he became interested in the guqin and studied under Zha Fuxi. He entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China in 1958, graduated in 1963 and would later serve as a leading professor there. He is a primary inheritor of the styles and repertoires of Wu Jinglüe and Guan Pinghu and has played a central role in the continuing professionalization and popularization of the guqin.
Not only did he study qin from Zha Fuxi, be also studied Chinese painting under Pu Xuezhai (溥雪齋) and Pan Su (潘素). In 1958, he gained entry into the Central Conservatory of Music to study guqin under Wu Jinglüe (吳景略). He graduated in 1963, began teaching, and has since taught many of the important performers of the next generation of guqin players. In 1989, he accepted a fellowship to Cambridge University, London, to research guqin improvisation, and lectured on guqin and xiao as a visiting fellow at the Music Department of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London 倫敦大學亞非學院. He returned to China in 1994 and resumed teaching at the Central Conservatory of Music. Currently, he is a Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, President of the China Guqin Committee 中國琴會, Vice-President of the Beijing Guqin Research Association 北京古琴研究會, a member of the Oriental Artists' Association 英國東方美術家協會, a committee member of the China Musicians' Association 中國音樂家協會民族音樂委員會, executive member of the International Cultural Exchange Center of China 中國國際文法交流中心, senior advisor to the North America Guqin Association 北美琴社, advisor to the Hezhan Qin Society of Taipei 臺北和真琴社 and to the Guqin Society of Gaoxiong City 高雄琴社, and artistic advisor to the London Youlan Qin Society 倫敦幽蘭琴社.
Since 1963, more than 400 students from China and overseas have studied guqin under Professor Li Xiangting. Besides performing in China, Li Xiangting has also staged over fifty recitals in many countries including the U.S., England, Germany, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Austria, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand. He has also lectured at various universities. The recital he held in 1982 at the Oriental Music Festival in Durham, England was the first of its kind in the history of the guqin. Another recital he gave in 1992 at the De Laville Theatre in Paris, with a seating capacity of 1000, attracted a full house, making it the largest ever attendance for a guqin recital. The radio and television stations of China and the radio stations of England and France have broadcast a number of programs featuring his guqin music. He has also recorded and arranged solo guqin music for a number of films and television dramas, including The Emperor's Shadow, "An Appreciative Audience" and Zhuge Liang. He was involved in the musical arrangement for the art education film "Qin" and the television Drama "The Courtship of the Phoenix".
Professor Li Xiangting's major written works include A Brief Introduction to the Art of Guqin Music 【略談古琴音樂藝術】, The Artistry of Zha Fuxi's Performances on the Guqin 【查阜西生生古琴藝術】, The Artistry of Wu Jinglüe's Performances on the Guqin 【吳景略先生古琴演奏藝術】, Discussion on Who was the Author of the 'Qin Cao' , An Outline for Research into Improvisation in Guqin Performance 【古琴即興演奏研究大綱】 and the poem Self- mocking 【自嘲】 in old and new literary forms. He has written an article entitled Qin for the Encyclopedia of China and published the book Aesthetics and Musical Ideology in Guqin Performance during the Tang Dynasty 【唐代古琴演奏美學及音樂思想研究】 in Taipei.
Professor Li's guqin compositions include Boat Song of the Three Gorges 《三峽船歌》 and Building a Road in the Wind and Snow 《風雪築路》. He has recorded more than ten albums including the Art of Li Xiangting's Guqin Performance 《李祥霆古琴藝術》, a number of cassettes and video tapes published by the China Record Companies and the French National Radio Record Company, former West Berlin, New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He took part in the annual exhibition of the Chinese Art House in 1988 and held a solo art exhibition at the University of London in 1989. In 1991, he gave speeches on the Dot and Line Aesthetics of Chinese Painting and Guqin Music 『古琴音樂與國畫的點線之美』 at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His biography is in the Directory of Chinese Artists and the Celebrities of Who's Who of Contemporary Chinese Artists.
Prof. Li has also published three albums on improvisation and extemporisation on the qin, which uses titles and poems of Tang poetry, Song verse and Yuan drama as themes. He uses both qin and xiao, individually as well as in duet (on separate tracks mixed into one track), as well as singing/reciting poetry in one. These albums are called Tangren Shiyi 【唐人詩意】, Songren Ciyi 【宋人詞意】 and Yuanqu Guyun 【元曲古韻】 respectively.
Prof. Li released his first guqin instructional video CD in 2000 【古琴教學】. In November 1994, Professor Li Xiangting received the "Outstanding Ethnic Artists of Writings and Paintings Award" granted by the Chinese Artists' Association and the Chinese Authors' Association. His guqin album the Glow of Sunset and Flowing Water won the Golden Tripod Award in Taipei. In 2002, the special program about his guqin improvisation by the China National Radio Station won the Best Production Award at the Shanghai International Music Festival.
His album called Sleeping Lotus has been named a 2005 Narcissus Award Finalist by New Age Retailer 「新世紀零售商二零零五年水仙獎決賽選手」. Winners (not announced) and Finalists will appear in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of New Age Retailer magazine.
Prof. Li collaborated with Dean Evenson to produce two CDs, entitled The Tao of Healing and The Tao of Peace. The Tao of Healing won the Coalition of Visionary Retailer's (COVR) Award for best New Age Album of the Year in 2001 「遠見零售商聯盟二零零一年最好新世紀音樂唱片獎勝利」.
In 2003 at the Edinburgh Festival, Prof. Li was the only performer to give a recital in the Chinese section.
- Please see: References section in the guqin article for a full list of references used in all qin related articles.
- Chinese culture site
- UK Chinese music
- Asian Music Profiles
- Treasures Of Chinese Instrumental Music, Guqin