Expanding your guitarist horizons – Xuefei Yang

Here’s a fantastically talented young female guitarist from China and somewhat of a pioneer. Xuefei was the very first classical guitarist in China to enter a music school, the first ever Chinese student to be awarded a full international scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London and then the first to launch an international professional career. Nice work!

Xuefei was born in 1977 in Beijing and began studying guitar at the tender age of seven. Just three years later, at age ten, she began studying under Chairman of the China Classical Guitar Society, Chen Zhi. It was also at this time that she made her public debut at the China International Guitar Festival. Apparently, she impressed the Spanish Ambassador so much he immediately presented her with a top-notch concert guitar! And that wasn’t the only time a top-flight instrument was bestowed upon her – when John Williams visited Beijing in 1995 he was also so impressed with her that he actually gave his very own Smallman to her as a gift!

I first came across Xuefei Yang a couple of years ago with her recording of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (which is a really fantastic interpretation and I invite you to check it out. She comes pretty bloody close to my all-time favourite version of this concerto by Carlos Bonnell). This recording also features the debut presentation of Stephen Goss’ Albeniz Concerto, which is also well worth a listen – taking many of Albeniz’s well-known themes and weaving into a fantastic guitar and orchestra concerto setting. It does feel perhaps a little “pastiche-y” perhaps in places, but an impressively grand, lush, full-on Romantic re-imagining of some of Albeniz’s works and, of course, fantastically delicious playing form Xuefei Yang.

Here are Xuefei and Stephen Goss talking about the work:

Check out some more of Xuefei’s playing……

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