Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Chinese Way>Life
Piano Taking Musician to Great Heights


German pianist Stefan Aaron plays paino on the Great Wall in Beijing on Aug 12, 2012. Wang Jing/Asianewsphoto

German pianist Stefan Aaron has quickly become a famous foreigner in China because of his recent performance — not on stage of but on the Great Wall in Beijing.

Wearing a black T-shirt and black pants, the 40-year-old musician climbs up the Great Wall at Juyongguan, or Juyongguan Pass, a mountain pass in Changping District 60 kilometers from downtown Beijing, on an early Sunday morning. Like any international tourists visiting the iconic place, he is exhilarated and exhausted as he climbs the steep stone stairs.

Besides the green mountains and ancient bricks of the Great Wall, there is a bright orange piano waiting for him.

"It's my baby. It shines in the mountains," he says, pointing at the orange piano, which took eight men more than an hour to carry onto the 300-meter-high Great Wall.

A 15-member film crew is also busy testing cameras and setting up equipment. When a curly haired French man says "action", the musician begins playing a song called Great Wall Song, which he wrote a month ago, primarily for this video.

"10,000 miles I've flown to come to Beijing. I've sold my car and tried to learn Chinese ... So indestructible and solid since 7th century BC, this wall survived so many years now for eternity," he sings as he plays the piano. He ends the song with a line in Chinese, which draws feverish applause from the people who have stopped to watch.

"Singing a song about the Great Wall at the Great Wall is a very special experience," he says. "I've always wanted to visit the spectacular Great Wall, which is a must-see destination for international tourists. Singing a Great Wall song I wrote and playing my piano upgrades the music to a much meaningful level."

This is the second stop of Aaron's Orange Piano Tour, which was first launched in August 2011, when his orange piano was flown to the peak of the 4,204-meter-high Alphubel mountain in Switzerland. The show also set an official Guinness world record for the highest piano performance.

"I wanted to do something crazy. Something that was never done before," he says. "I want to put my orange piano at unusual places and see what happens."

Aaron said a helicopter transported the orange piano up the mountain in Switzerland. The film crew didn't have much time to prepare for the shooting in Beijing, so the piano had to be carried up the Great Wall.

"We've never done and even thought about this before. It's very challenging not only to move the piano up here but also make all these shooting details possible," says Christopher Dolan, the director and coordinator of the project, who founded Triple Three Production three years ago in Beijing. Under sunny skies, Aaron also performed another song, Doing the Undoable, the theme song of his Orange Piano Tour, which is about perseverance and believing in one's dreams.

1 2