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Vancouver Erhu Quartet 溫哥華二胡四重奏 (Vancouver)

Vancouver Erhu Quartet 溫哥華二胡四重奏
Teasing Golden Snake (2020) – Jin Zhang

This piece was inspired by a well-known Chinese traditional folk tune “Crazy Dance of Golden Snakes”.  The composer utilizes a variety of conventional and extended techniques of the string instruments, focusing on the ones that best represent the characteristics of the erhu, to express the nature of the snakes: fluidity, suspense, and swift movements. The piece vividly depicts a dynamic scene of imaginative snake dance and the magics from an entertaining snake charmer.

During the pandemic, the Vancouver Erhu Quartet has been working closely with Vancouver composer Jin Zhang. This video features Zhang’s Teasing Golden Snake, the first piece in this newly formed ensemble’s repertoire. 

The Sound of Dragon Society has since commissioned Edward Top, Tim Brady, and Yawen Wang to compose for this ensemble. Top and Brady’s new works will be recorded in Dec 2021 with limited in-person audience and future broadcast.

Vancouver Erhu Quartet explores the sonic possibilities with different combinations of the erhu family – erhu, gaohu, zhong, and lower tone erhu – complimented with the deep sound of the cello. The quartet consists of Vancouver erhu players Nicole Ge Li, Jun Rong, and Lan Tung, with cellist Luke Wook-Young Kim. They bring together expertise in various genres, such as traditional, contemporary, classical, avant-garde, and world/cross-cultural music.

Known for its expressive sounds, the erhu/Chinese violin is one the most versatile instruments. Not only in China, but also in many Asian countries and around the world, the erhu has been employed widely by musicians and composers in different contexts. An instrument of ancient roots, the modern erhu has undergone significant development in recent decades in its construction/workmanship, techniques, and repertoire. An erhu quartet is a new performance format starting to emerge in Asia in recent years. There are currently only a handful of erhu quartets in the world, and Vancouver Erhu Quartet is the first one in Canada.

Nicole Ge Li – erhu

Hailing the Canadian music scene with impeccable techniques and rich tonality, Nicole is best known for her performances in “Piano Erhu Project”, a duet with pianist Corey Hamm. Since 2012, PEP has toured in China, premiered numerous Canadian compositions, and released 3 CDs. Nicole gave her first Vancouver recital in 2011 and performs with the Sound of Dragon Ensemble since 2015. She is in high demand as a soloist at various festivals. She began studying the erhu at 6 and won the second place in China’s 2002 Daily Art Competition at 11, while attending the Wuhan Conservatory Affiliated Secondary School. In 2008, she graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, under the guidance of erhu master Wang Yongde. Nicole teaches the erhu at VSO School of Music and the JW Music Studio. She is the producer/host of a popular erhu YouTube channel.

Jun Rong – erhu

Jun has appeared at many concerts, festivals, recordings, and CBC radio broadcast. She is a member of Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and Silk Road Music Ensemble. She performs in a duo with harpist Lani Krantz. Jun was a guest soloist with the Victoria Symphony, Calgary Symphony, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as the internationally renowned Vega String Quartet. Jun has released a number of CDs, including one featuring the master works of Tian-hua Liu, the most important Chinese composer for erhu music in the 20th century. Jun teaches the erhu at the Capilano University. After graduating from the China Music Academy in Beijing, Jun joined the China Opera & Dance Orchestra before making Vancouver her new home.

Lan Tung – erhu

Artistic director of Orchid Ensemble, Sound of Dragon Society, and Proliferasian, Lan has appeared as a soloist/composer with Orchestre Metropolitain (Montreal), Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Turning Point Ensemble, Upstream Ensemble (Halifax), Atlas Ensemble (Amsterdam & Helsinki), and Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taipei). As a producer/performer/composer, Lan has collaborated with musicians, dancers, and media artists from different cultures. After studying at Taiwan’s Chinese Cultural University, Lan has traveled around the world to study Hindustani music with Kala Ramnath, improvisation with Mary Oliver, graphic score with Barry Guy, Uyghur music with Abdukerim Osman, and Mongolian Horsehead fiddle with Bayar. At the Vancouver Creative Music Institute (2007-2009), she studied/improvised with Han Bennink (Holland), Barry Guy, Evan Parker, John Butcher (UK), Francois Houle, Paul Plimley…etc. Lan has won an International Independent Music Awards and multiple nominations by the JUNO Awards, Canadian Independent Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, and Western Canadian Music Awards.

Luke Wook-Young Kim – cello

A member of Vancouver Cello Quartet and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Luke graduated from UBC where he received the Catherine-Cooke Topping Memorial Medal for musical excellence, and completed the Master of Music degree at UCLA with full scholarship. His teachers include Antonio Lysy, Joseph Elworthy, Eric Wilson, John Friesen, and Kenneth Friedman. Luke participated in masterclasses with Lynn Harrell, Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot, and Paul Katz. He also attended the Aspen Music Festival and the Early Music Vancouver Programme, and he plays the baroque cello and viola da gamba. Luke has performed as a soloist with Seoul Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, Polish Czestochowa Philharmonic Orchestra, and Busan Neo Philharmonic (Korea), and West Coast Symphony.