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Ma Xiaohui is an internationally celebrated Erhu player with an incredible ability to speak to the world through her instrument. Having left home at the age of 13 to pursue a career in music, she studied at the Shanghai Conservatory for nine years, before later travelling the globe collaborating with some of the most internationally celebrated orchestras.

She recently opened up about her love of performing, why the repertoire in this year’s Chinese New Year concert is so special to her, and the history behind her fascinating instrument.

Performing with the MSO is such a blessing, and this performance is the perfect way to promote cross-cultural music. I’ve played with orchestras in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, but never in Melbourne! I’ve always loved performing in Australia, and I’m looking forward to once again connecting musically with the great people of this wonderful country.

I love my instrument, the Erhu. It originated in Persia, as did the violin, over 1,000 years ago! It’s a soulful music maker, with only two strings (like our vocal chords), and is often referred to as the “Chinese violin.” It travelled down the Silk Road into China and has since become the country’s leading classical music instrument, with its warm, sensitive, and unique sound.

“It’s an instrument that evokes deep feelings and can soar to surprising heights of musical beauty.”

The repertoire in this concert is gorgeous. Shepherd Girl in the Tianshan Mountains is a beautiful classical piece that evokes images of lovely young shepherdesses dancing in the “heavenly (Tianshan) mountains.”

“Audiences invariably love this piece with its deeply moving melody and impressive orchestral movements.”

Every time I play this piece I can see the blue sky and feel the fresh air. I can touch the loving, lively, sensitive pretty shepherdesses. Sometimes I even feel myself becoming one of them dancing on the mountains, celebrating nature. It’s a joyful piece with unique flavour from its, origin in the Xinjiang province. A perfect piece for a New Year blessing!

“My name means ‘morning sunshine’ and I hope that with my performance I can bring colour, hope, and harmony to the people of Melbourne!”

See Ma Xiaohui perform in this year’s Chinese New Year concert at Hamer Hall on Saturday February 24.

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