Zhao Cong, the youngest female leader, fills Chinese folk music with hope

109 views · Organized by 线性代数 on 2022-11-08

That night in 2016, by the West Lake. With her fingertips, she has conquered audiences of different languages and colors. As a result, the world got to know her and the Chinese lute.

Her smile is as bright as a cluster of flames, which can make the topic relaxed and the communication atmosphere warm. In the fast speed of her conversation, I can feel the fast rhythm of her work and the continuous state of her creation, performance and group affairs.

Zhao Cong, the youngest female leader, fills Chinese folk music with hope

"You can go through the ancient and modern times with your fingers, and you can be free without asking anything." These 16 words are Zhao Cong's motto. The first half of this sentence agrees with her artistic aspiration as a pipa performer, and the second half of this sentence is her distinctive concept in the promotion of national music after becoming the head of the Central National Orchestra. Innovation is the special label of this pipa player. In her eyes, musical instruments are alive, and she nourished them with sound, so that the "rebound pipa" can go out of the millennium murals and find the world expression of Chinese folk music.

Her family named her "Zhao Cong",
Implied meaning of "hearing and seeing"

Zhao Cong's father is from Jilin and his mother is from Shanghai. He came together because of his love of music and mutual appreciation. Zhao Cong was born in such a musical family with a mix of northern and southern cultures. He said that "I started to listen to my mother play the pipa when I was born, and felt that the pipa was just like growing in my body". At the age of 6, she began to learn the pipa with her mother Sun Duoping. "My mother is my first teacher. When she was young, she was a drama actor and No. 1 female. She was very smart. She taught herself the pipa, and she also played the piano and sang songs. My mother is my idol and my goddess. She combines almost all the advantages of Chinese women. She is full of strength and music spirit."

Her family named her "Zhao Cong", implying the meaning of "hearing and seeing". "I have an elder sister who is two years older than me. She learned musical instruments first, and her father taught her violin and piano. At that time, everyone felt that learning western musical instruments was quite foreign. When I was six years old, I wanted to learn the pipa. My mother set up a small snowflake art troupe, and she asked me to call her a teacher in public. My mother recruited 10 students at a time. In order to increase the competitive pressure, she always praised the child next to me, which further aroused my desire to practice the pipa. I My mother is very intelligent and has always instilled in me the consciousness of going to the Central Conservatory of Music. Under normal circumstances, I usually practice the pipa for 6 hours. One day, I challenged myself and practiced for 10 hours. My head felt dizzy and I felt feverish, but I was very happy. " Zhao Cong said that her mother had created many opportunities for her to take the stage. She had won the first place in provincial and municipal competitions many times. "A lot of things are practiced on the stage, not in the piano room. As a parent, I let my daughter watch and listen more, and teach my children the way my mother taught me."

Zhao Cong recalled that he did not feel pain because of learning the pipa in his childhood, but was happy because of it. "I may have been born for the pipa". This sense of fatalism from the inside out and the insistence on choosing one thing for life made her naturally turn the difficulties in learning the pipa into honey.

Pipa is a difficult instrument in folk music. It is difficult because of its wide range and many types of fingering. Playing requires plucking, pressing, flexing and touching the strings. When he learned the pipa in his early years, Zhao Cong had a strong perseverance, insisted on training his finger sensitivity, and started his dream of music. She has always been casual on the way to learn piano. She is very grateful to her mother for giving her a comfortable environment to learn piano. Unexpectedly, her childhood hobby has become her career. "Ambush on Ten Sides" is an ancient music that she has been skilled in playing in her heart since she was seven or eight years old. More than 30 years later, she collaborated with the composer Ma Jiuyue to compile the new music. It was accompanied by electronic music, accompanied by strong drums, and played with her specially designed "Crystal Pipa" to create an ancient style and new meaning, which made the music world refreshing. Recalling that year, Zhao Cong said frankly, "I didn't dare to make my debut in China, but I did it in Seoul. Unexpectedly, the outdoor scene of more than 20000 people was' flipped '. My confidence was given by the audience."

A few years ago, Zhao Cong adapted "Butterfly Lovers", which was played by the whole family. The newly edited "Butterfly Lovers" is less solemn and sorrowful than the original version and has a warm charm. In the performance, the crispness of the pipa, the sweetness of the piano and the femininity of the violin complement each other and are full of appeal. Zhao Cong and his family have a loving interaction in their eyes, which also makes the scene full of family warm atmosphere and love.

As a child, Zhao Cong played Rubik's Cube. At first, she just saw others play the Rubik's Cube with superb skill and operate freely, and all recovered in the sound of "click click". She moves because of her heart, and can restore the Rubik's Cube and harvest happiness when turning slowly. To Zhao Cong's surprise, when he was a child, he became attached to the Rubik's Cube, and when he grew up, he would reproduce the "magic" in another way. Who said that only violin can have transparent crystal material? Zhao Cong has created a crystal pipa. The fashionable coat makes the ancient musical instruments shine. Who says that the pipa can only be played honestly? Zhao Cong invented the "knapsack pipa". In the era of "indignant youth", she tried to mix and match rock, rap, and various variations... Over the years, Zhao Cong has been thinking and innovating.

"I like innovation. When Yangyin just graduated, I and my classmates formed a group called 'music cat' ’In the band, there are not only western instruments such as violin and cello, but also national instruments such as pipa. Together, it is a world language, rich and interesting. The violin in the group was particularly 'hi', so I began to think: the guitar can be 'electric', why not the pipa? Then I invented an electric pipa that can be played standing like a guitar. It is very exciting to play. I also run around the front of the stage like a violinist. " Zhao Cong strives to blend folk music with other musical instruments, so that eastern and western musical instruments can find a common language and conduct a diversified combination of music. In her mind, music is just like "Rubik's Cube" emerging one by one. The different aspects of "Rubik's Cube" are unpredictable and harmonious. As a result, the stage has become a platform for the "Rubik's Cube" performance and an endless challenge space for itself: Zhao Cong led the creation of the "Rose Tango". The unique charm of the pipa matches the style of western musical instruments, making the music happy! The "Heaven and Earth Eternal Music · China Festival" created by the Central National Orchestra, the Palace Museum and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra breaks the serious language boundary of music by means of "cloud cooperation", so that folk music can fly to a further place. With the mentality of "playing the Rubik's Cube", she promoted Chinese folk music to the world in different media, "playing" the pipa out of the country, and set off a craze for Chinese national musical instruments.

In 2014, Zhao Cong created Flying on the Silk Road. Before coming to Dunhuang to collect wind, she was impressed with the brilliance of Dunhuang. "On the spot, I found that the murals were very mottled after thousands of years of washing." In the dark caves of Mogao Grottoes, Zhao Cong followed the light of the guide's flashlight and felt the shock and emotion of the flying sky in the Dunhuang murals, as if he was talking with his ancestors through time. "When creating this work, there is always a sense of picture lingering in my mind, one by one flying into the sky. Close your eyes, let the melody and inspiration find me, and then record it." In addition to using the classical fingering melody, the work also innovates the playing techniques, and makes beneficial exploration and attempts in the harmony structure and rhythm.

After the completion of the pipa concerto, it was presented in front of the nine story tower in Dunhuang as a special performance to commemorate the 1650 year of Dunhuang. The music has a full sense of picture, as if you could see a flying woman holding the pipa, stepping on the auspicious clouds, coming from the distant ancient times. It didn't rain much in Dunhuang for a year, but when Zhao Cong played "Flying on the Silk Road" that day, it started to drizzle. Zhao Cong, who has devoted himself wholeheartedly, is unconsciously in tears. It seems that with the sound of pipa, rain, and dreams flying into the sky, everything is speechless. This scene made Fan Jinshi, the "daughter of Dunhuang" on the scene, unable to help sighing, "This is a moving Heavenly Maiden, and the Heavenly Maiden has scattered".

The rebound pipa, now mostly referring to the unconventional thinking and behavior, is actually a dance style or the most characteristic picture in Dunhuang murals. In the Dunhuang murals, the pipa has appeared more than 600 times, and there are dozens of paintings holding the pipa and playing while dancing. The dance moves include holding the vertical bullet, swinging the arm horizontally, tilting the head, leaning backward, and bouncing back, especially the pipa, which is very difficult. In Cave 112 of Dunhuang, there is a celestial dancer with the pipa on her head: her head is tied in a high bun, her upper body is half naked, the pipa is placed behind her head, her plump arms are held back at the top of her head, her feet are dancing, and the dance belt is unfolded. Her expression is calm and natural, full of infinite vitality. The thumbs of both feet seem to be shaking to match the beat. The Heavenly Maiden's eyes drooped slightly, and she looked as if she were immortal.

The rebound pipa, in fact, is playing music and dancing, with superb playing skills and excellent dancing gracefully and attractively concentrated on the shoulders. Is this the prototype of good singing and dancing at the beginning, or is it the strange imagination and outstanding creation of the painter? There is no clear answer about the earliest appearance time and artistic origin of the rebound pipa. It has been claimed that the rebound pipa is the peak of music and dance created by Chinese people and is a unique national art in the history of Chinese dance.

Due to the limitations of the pipa's own weight and the performer's performance ability, the performer has no way to completely rebound the pipa. However, in the 2022 CCTV Lantern Festival Gala, in the Qitian Music jointly performed by performers of the Central National Orchestra, when Zhao Cong bounced the pipa slowly turned around, warm applause broke out from the audience, and the audience witnessed the real bounce of the pipa. "Many people think that the beautiful image of the rebound pipa is just a dance shape, and that 'playing with real guns' may not be the truth of history. This assertion just prompted me to have the idea of' trying by example '." Zhao Cong said.

In order to try to rebound the pipa, Zhao Cong insisted on practicing yoga for several months, and kept practicing shoulder opening movements. His arms became more and more soft. "The most difficult thing is to turn the hand back. The sliding string and the wheel finger of the backhand are very difficult for normal people." Zhao Cong also contacted Shanghai Dunhuang No. 1 National Musical Instrument Factory. According to the Dunhuang murals, he restored and made four pipas. He experimented with the timbre, shape, appearance, size and weight over and over again, and found the fulcrum of rebound in the clever design of the costume designer, making the impossible possible step by step, and finally surprised the four. When the program was broadcasted, Zhao Cong's "immortal scene" reflecting on the pipa gave the audience a glimpse.

The successful performance also confirms Zhao Cong's creative attitude: "After all, it is a minority. To be liked by more people, it must conform to the language expression of the public's Pop."

"Compared with western music, the repertoire of Chinese folk music is too few. What I want to write is not a simple piece, but a reflection of Chinese culture. I haven't learned how to compose music all day, and what I write is something that gives me great impact." Zhao Cong thus opened a door and created many works with Zhao Cong's characteristics. Zhao Cong devotes herself to many pieces of music. Some colorful parts are written by her. Her artistic symbols are clearly reflected in her works. She hopes to leave more works for the pipa performance.

"Tradition and innovation are never separated. Tradition is the root of innovation. Without tradition, innovation is floating and empty. Only when there is the seed of innovation in the heart and the root of tradition at the foot can it grow into a towering tree." Zhao Cong, who takes the promotion of Chinese national music as his own responsibility, is committed to the world promotion of pipa art. He is brave to innovate in inheriting the tradition and has created one first and one only. She has used a new way of expression that combines pipa, piano, string quartet and other instruments to refresh people's understanding of traditional Chinese folk music. "Our Chinese culture is very inclusive, and various musical elements are well absorbed by the pipa, so now we can play music of various styles with the pipa. As a 'mixed race', it can be both written and martial, and can be both western and eastern. The ancient music of the pipa has a high artistic conception, and when it is combined with pop music and electroacoustic music, there will be no sense of discord."

Since the establishment of the Central National Orchestra
The youngest female leader

On February 3, 2021, Zhao Cong became the head of the Central National Orchestra, known as the "National Folk Music Team". This is the youngest female leader of the Central National Orchestra since its establishment.

In 1990, Zhao Cong was admitted to the Affiliated High School of Jilin Academy of Arts and studied under Professor Sun Shulin, a pipa educator and performer. "Miss Sun is very strict with students. Sometimes she teaches a few hours of lessons for a single sound. If it's not right, he cannot pass. He must find the most traditional and authentic flavor. Therefore, I learned to tolerate." In 1996, she entered the Central Conservatory of Music as she wished and studied under the famous pipa educator Professor Li Guanghua. "Teacher Li's greatest feature is to teach students in accordance with their aptitude. He was very supportive of my later attempts and often gave me ideas. It can be said that I met the right teacher at the right time." In 2000, she graduated with excellent results, won the first place in the business qualification examination held by the Ministry of Culture in the same year, and was admitted to the Central Ethnic Orchestra.

For a top performer, technology is not a problem, but the key is to constantly fight with yourself and defeat yourself. In the eyes of many people, Zhao Cong was faced with countless flowers and applause. In fact, she participated in a competition in the early years and played in a mess. "She got nothing and gave me a stick". It turned out that when she was playing the song, she suddenly changed the tune and turned it twice. "I'm like crazy. People are too smooth and easy to be attacked. There are nearly a hundred people on the stage, and I hide behind the piano silently. I don't seem to be able to play. I'm afraid of which tone is wrong, and I doubt whether my fingers are pressed wrong. If people don't have confidence, how terrible it is." It took a long time for her to adjust.

When she first came to the Central National Orchestra, she felt everything was new and proud. Once, when she went to America to perform, she unexpectedly left her lute on the bus.

Zhao Cong grew up step by step in the Central National Orchestra. "The Central National Orchestra pays attention to inheritance and is willing to embrace new things. The" out of the circle "of folk music can not be separated from integrity and innovation." She said that she never stopped learning from excellent artistic traditions and absorbing nutrition. The pipa becomes a "divine instrument" under Zhao Cong's fingertips, making its unique charm wander between heaven and earth. She has implanted modern pop elements into traditional music works again and again, winning the praise of the general audience.

"In my world, there is no difference between men and women and between the East and the West. The key is to see whether there is creativity. Creativity is vital," she admitted, "Musical instrument masters are almost all male. On the one hand, they are quite persistent and have been sticking to it. On the other hand, they basically have both male explosiveness and female delicacy. In art, both delicacy and explosiveness should be considered. Therefore, when playing, it is better to forget your gender." Crossing cultural differences and transcending the limitations of gender ability, Zhao Cong roams freely in his artistic life.

Speaking of the differences between male and female managers, she said frankly: "Women may be more delicate, more resilient, and men more creative." Colleagues said that Zhao Cong is a warm and caring big sister in life, and some of her heart would like to share with her.

As the head of the delegation, Zhao Cong's innovative concept was further reflected in the promotion of national music, and he had many new thoughts on the development and exploration of folk music. Sanxingdui Site is an important discovery of modern Chinese archaeology. It has attracted the attention of the world with its long history, exquisite cultural relics, unique culture, and mysterious, which strongly proves the existence of ancient Shu and the diversity of the origin of Chinese civilization. The cultural relics unearthed continuously also prove that the ancient Shu civilization to which Sanxingdui Site belongs is an important part of Chinese civilization. In 2021, when she first stepped into the Sanxingdui Museum, Zhao Cong was attracted by a variety of cultural relics, and she was deeply shocked by thousands of years of history and culture. "The ancient Shu Kingdom left us too many puzzles, and gave us a huge space to explore, inspiring our endless imagination." Zhao Congmeng had a strong desire to create. In her view, the "blank" between history and imagination is the area where creators and performers can play and deserve to play. She is determined to pay tribute to history with the power of music in a work.

Zhao Cong noted that in the archaeological work of Sanxingdui Site, modern science and technology have been used in all aspects of cultural relics exploration, excavation, preservation and restoration, so that the excavation of Sanxingdui Site has entered a new era of scientific and technological archaeology, and the cultural relics that have been sleeping for thousands of years have been gradually awakened. Under the guidance of relevant personnel of Sanxingdui Museum, Zhao Cong finally successfully created the first meta universe concept music work, Sanxingdui · Divine Bird. The work presents the charm of Sanxingdui, a world cultural treasure, through time and space in the form of multi expression of "Sanxingdui culture, national music, art, meta universe concept music".

The work "Sanxingdui · Divine Birds" uses the unique pipa timbre and special sound effect skills after processing to intertwine the mystery and romance, fashion and cool thousands of years ago. It creates a mysterious totem signal connecting the unknown concept in the legend of divine birds and musical instrument elements. The known structure constitutes a new unknown field, reappears the mysterious energy of divine birds, and outlines a historical illusion of flowing waves. This kind of contextualized expression not only guarantees the virtuality of art, but also maintains the continuity of historical narration. The long years are connected with a pipa, so as to gain the connection and imagination of ancient culture, and let people feel the new trend of interpretation of national music.

Zhao Cong used his fingertips to pluck the heartstrings and lead the listener's thoughts to travel to the ancient Shu era by time. With the synaesthesia of art, he let the listener touch the cultural context that has flowed for thousands of years and feel the early exchange and integration of Chinese civilization and its diversity and richness. From the performer to the leader of the orchestra, Zhao Cong has been innovating and thinking. Previously, we only need to consider how to play better and create more innovative music. Now we need to control the development direction of the whole orchestra and cooperate with the most popular media platforms, such as Tiktok, Kwai, Station B. "The music itself should be attractive enough, and the quality should be good enough. The future of the Central National Orchestra has to be considered strategically." After watching the film "Champion", Zhao Cong said: "From now on, the Central National Orchestra has no you, no me, only us."

Although she is already the leader of the orchestra, Zhao Cong still insists on practicing the piano every day. After 9 o'clock every night, she is alone with the pipa. She also has a pipa in her office, which she plays when she is not working. Even when she goes out for meetings, she often brings her beloved pipa with her. "Playing the zither is the safest and happiest thing. The pipa is a part of my body and a continuation of my life." Zhao Cong has various understandings and expressions of the world. He chose music and pipa. She expressed her emotions through the pipa without any obstacles. After watching Zhao Cong's performance, some people described him as "the combination of human and piano". Everyone has his own Jianghu, and Zhao Cong's Jianghu has spent his whole life on the four strings of the pipa.

This leading figure of Chinese new folk music thinks more about how to let Chinese listeners enjoy unique traditional folk music, how to communicate and integrate Chinese folk music with the world music, and how to let the world know more about China through music. "If folk music is to be strong and have its own voice in the world, there must be people and works. People, one is to train our young people, the other is to introduce talents. For works, we not only have traditional works, but also have the obligation to guide current composers to create modern works, and of course, guide the audience. We have caught up with a good era, the rise of national style China-Chic, and the establishment of Chinese cultural self-confidence."

Fortunately, so many years of experience has opened her eyes and given her a new concept. Zhao Cong, who is good at "rebounding pipa", has his own special tactics in management innovation and the development of the Central Committee and Youth League

"Perfect performance,
Let Chinese folk music be full of hope "

National music, in many people's impression, is synonymous with tradition and elegance, but in the eyes of some young people, national music is quite sophisticated. "There is indeed a distance, so we should lean down to listen to young people, see what they like, use their favorite ways, and touch them with real feelings. At present, China-Chic is very influential among young people, which proves the attraction of our own culture, and also leads young people into a broader and deeper space of Chinese culture.". Zhao Cong thinks.

Nowadays, Chinese folk music has appeared more and more in a new way. Zhao Cong is the matchmaker and participant of the modernization and international expression of folk music. Because of her and her colleagues' series of cross-border actions, more and more audiences at home and abroad begin to accept and love Chinese folk music. Zhao Cong said frankly that at the beginning of the promotion of Chinese folk music, he tried to learn the expression language and communication means of pop music, hoping to be recognized and loved by everyone.

Electronic music made with electronic instruments and related technologies is popular or popular in different regions. "Why do people like it? Because harmony and rhythm are added, the music becomes more full. Chinese folk music has less harmony, more melody and more charm. If we add electronic music harmony and rhythm to national music without losing charm and characteristics, the audience will easily accept it," Zhao Cong said. The reason why symphony is close to the public is that the creators adhere to the national direction of symphony creation, boldly absorb and draw lessons from the skills of symphony creation, and create a number of symphony works with high artistic standards. Therefore, she has the confidence and strength to let Chinese folk music go out. "Chinese national instrumental music is great both in terms of historical details and playing techniques," she said. Only by finding something in common, can emotions be exchanged.

Zhao Cong believes that the combination of China and the West in music should not be just a simple "one plus one equals two". New folk music is not just folk music plus electronic music, not playing the "Radtsky March" with pipa and erhu, nor "coffee tea" that mixes coffee and tea. In the performance, the pipa, violin and jazz piano interlace each other, so that the pipa's individual vocabulary and the overall momentum of the western band can interact positively, and live in harmony with the band's "ensemble" without losing the wind.

Speaking of the challenges faced by Chinese folk music on the road of internationalization, Zhao Cong said that there is a lack of good works. However, she "slowly found that more and more young composers began to grow and become confident. With good works, Chinese folk music will be better and better".

Representing the highest level of Chinese lute playing today, Zhao Cong has visited more than 50 countries and regions in Europe, America, Asia and Oceania, and has performed in important state events and overseas visits for many times. More than 40 foreign heads of state have listened to her, won the "Personal Contribution Award for Overseas Promotion" of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and was honored as a "Music Diplomat". The British Guardian commented: "Zhao Cong's perfect performance makes Chinese folk music full of hope." Zhao Cong showed the beauty of contemporary Chinese music to the world with his pipa.

Speaking of the pressure faced by each performance, she said that "when the eyes of the world gather and the performance represents the traditional Chinese culture, she really will feel the unprecedented pressure. But when she finally walked on the stage, when she removed all distractions and returned to the original, only she and the music face to face, this experience is a sublimation of her". Looking at Zhao Cong's life and her heart, the pipa has brought Zhao Cong more than innumerable honors in the world. What you say on the string is what you say in your heart. For Zhao Cong, the pipa is her confidant and herself.

"Music has no borders." In the view of the "music ambassador" who promotes Chinese traditional music and culture, it is a good way to communicate with the audience with folk music. "Music itself has transcended the barriers of language, and folk music has its own characteristics. The intonation, organization and technology are leading in the world's folk music family. In the future, our orchestra will continue to expand the modern expression of folk music while inheriting tradition and polishing ancient music."

Reference materials and contributors
赵聪:反弹琵琶征服世界

Involving the artist

The media commented on her: "Zhao Cong has become a music practitioner who persistently walks between classical and modern in the advancement of modern folk music." Hans Nielsen, the famous international recording master and chairman of the "Sound Asia" jury, commented on Zhao Cong as "a top performer with a first-class international performance level".
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Involving musical instruments

Pipa (pinyin: pí pa), the first plucked instrument, is a traditional plucked instrument in East Asia, a plucked stringed musical instrument. Made of wood or bamboo, the speaker is half-pear-shaped and has four strings on the top. It was originally made of silk thread, but now it is mostly made of steel wire, steel rope and nylon.

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