Yu Hong-Mei

String Glamour

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When other young Chinese women were embracing modern Chinese pop and being influenced by American pop stars like Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul, Yu Hong-Mei was studying traditional Chinese music and playing the erhu. One of China's most legendary string instruments, the erhu is a two-stringed violin that pre-dates the birth of Christ. Like the morin huur, it's an instrument that anyone who's seriously interested in traditional Chinese music should know about. Hong-Mei was in her late 20s when, in 1999, she traveled to the U.S. and recorded String Glamour at Christ the King Chapel in Santa Barbara, CA. This CD marked the first time Hong-Mei had recorded outside of China, and the fact that it was recorded in a Christian church is interesting -- when erhu music is performed in a religious setting, it's much more likely to be Buddhist rather than Christian. Hong-Mei's erhu playing is consistently expressive throughout the album, which finds her playing traditional pieces that come from various provinces of China. While "Spring Song" was written in 1964, "Three Signs at the Guan Pass" goes all the way back to the late 15th century. Boasting comprehensive liner notes in both English and Chinese, String Glamour is easily recommended to world music enthusiasts.

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