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The path to the West

I was curious about Chenyin's experiences at the Beijing Conservatoire. Snatched from her parents at the age of eight and then, for a whole decade, only returning home briefly, twice a year, her fellow music students became like a family.

She thinks that much in Beijing was copied from the Conservatoire system in Russia, with its boarding school system and training from a very early age. 'The Conservatoire gave very good training for technique and early finger work, but somehow the students didn't get the chance to know more music -- they'd been told to concentrate practice on their own pieces.'

'For true development of musicianship, you need to open up and experience everything related to music, such as other forms of Art. I found that aspect lacking, and I think this is why a lot of talented young Chinese musicians, after achieving a certain standard, go to the West to further their studies. That's why I've ended up here.'

'Many young Chinese pianists have achieved international standard, like Yun-di Li, who's only eighteen and just won the last Chopin International Competition. Lang Lang is another new one who studied and achieved considerable success in the States, and another -- Sa Chen -- a good friend of mine. They're all marvellous young pianists.'

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Copyright © 14 February 2002 Keith Bramich, London, UK




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