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Chu Yibing to stage 'super-cello' party in Beijing

Updated: 2016-01-11 08:25:01

( China Daily )

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Chu Yibing (center) will celebrate his 50th birthday with a two-day musical event in Beijing.[Photo by Zou Hong/ China Daily]

Chu Yibing will turn 50 in February.

To celebrate his birthday, the Chinese cellist is organizing a two-day event in Beijing, where musicians from home and abroad will present recitals, workshops and movies for fans.

"From breakfast to dinner, you will be surrounded by music," Chu tells China Daily.

One of the guest musicians is French cellist Philippe Muller, who teaches at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Chu met him more than three decades ago while he was learning music at the Paris Conservatory. Although he didn't teach Chu, it was Muller who signed his diploma in 1987.

French cellist Marc Coppey, German cellist Julius Berger and Israeli cellist Gavriel Lipkind are also expected to join the "super-cello" party.

Born in Beijing to musicians Zhu Yongning and Wang Yaoling, both of whom taught at the city's Central Conservatory of Music, Chu is regarded as one of the greatest cellists of his generation.

He started learning the cello at age 8 and went to Europe to pursue his music studies in 1983. Six years later, he became the principal cellist of Switzerland's Basel Symphony Orchestra.

After nearly two decades of living and working in the West, he returned to China in 2004 as the head cello teacher for the Central Conservatory of Music.

"I hope to do something for Chinese music students. Their teamwork skills are as bad as those of Chinese football players," Chu says. "The first thing is to teach them the importance of chamber music."

Chu formed his cello ensemble in 2005, dedicating most of his time to chamber music. Among his successful students is Yang Yichen, a 28-year-old cellist, whose band, Amber Quartet, will also perform at Chu's birthday celebrations. In 2013, when Amber Quartet won an international chamber music competition, it became one of the first Chinese quartets to do so.

In the past few years, Chu has toured the country with his own ensemble, performing in places where the cello is rarely heard.

In September, for example, he and his team visited locations along the ancient Silk Road and performed works by Bach, Debussy and Mahler. The destinations included the Qinghai Lake in Northwest China's Qinghai province.

Chu and his team also played amid natural settings in nearby Gansu province, including the Yadan National Geological Park that features landforms made by winds from the Gobi Desert.

"Can you imagine a camel's reaction on seeing a cello case or hearing the sound of the cello?" Chu says.

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