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Xuefei Yang (Guitar, Arranger)

Born: March 15, 1977 - Beijing, China

The Chinese guitarist, Xuefei Yang ((Fei)), began playing the guitar when she was 7. Three years later, she started studying under Chen Zhi, the Chairman of the China Classical Guitar Society. She made a public debut at the age of 10, at the First China International Guitar Festival, where she met with an immediate acclaim. At her debut, one of the most respected luthiers, Masaru Kohno, presented her a guitar, Pepe by Aria; it was her first foreign-made guitar. The next achievement that she made was a second prize at the Beijing Senior Guitar competition; at that time, she was only 11. As a schoolgirl, Yang rapidly achieved an international reputation, playing extensively in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Spain, and Australia, and giving concert tours in Taiwan, Japan and Portugal. At twelve, she played in Tokyo for the first time, and was given a special award by the Guitar Alliance of Japan. Masaru Kohno, this time, took Yang to his studio and asked her to take any guitar with her. She played the Kohno guitar, made of cedar and jacaranda, regularly over the next five years. During her Madrid debut at age 14, the composer Joaquín Rodrigo was among the audience; in 1995, after John Williams listened to her performance in Beijing, he was so impressed that he loaned two of his own Greg Smallman guitars to her conservatory, for her and other top students to play.

After completing her secondary schooling, Xuefei Yang went on to complete her studies in Beijing, becoming the first guitarist to enter a music school in China, and obtaining a Bachelor of Arts from the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music. She then become the first guitarist from China to study in the UK and the first guitarist ever to receive an international scholarship from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music for her postgraduate programme at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She moved to London in 2000, studying under Michael Lewin, John Mills and Timothy Walker and further establishing her international career with many solo recitals and concert performances in the UK and Europe. She graduated with distinction in 2002, achieving a Recital Diploma and receiving the Royal Academy of Music Principal's prize for exceptional all-round studentship.

Xuefei Yang has won numerous prizes in music competitions including the Stotsenberg International Classical Guitar Competition, the San Francisco International Guitar Competition and the Young Concert Artist International competition in the United States, and the Darwin International Guitar Competition in Australia. She was awarded first prize in the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award by the City of London's Worshipful Company of Musicians, and won the Dorothy Grinstead Prize for a recital at Fairfield Hall, Croydon.

Xuefei Yang has already given recitals or concerts in 40 countries, including the UK, Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland), the USA, Asia (China, Japan and Singapore), and Australia. The demand for her music sees Fei keeping a busy international schedule including London's major venues (with several sell-out recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall), and concerts at the world’s most prestigious venues including Philharmonie Berlin, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Konzerthaus Vienna, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, National Auditorium Madrid, Dvorak Hall Prague, Carnegie Hall & Lincoln Center New York, plus the main venues across Asia. Fei gave both the first solo guitar, and first guitar concerto, recitals ever in Beijing's National Centre of Performing Arts. Concert appearances have included playing Rodrigo's Fantasia para un Gentilhombre with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Concierto de Aranjuez with the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra at Duke’s Hall. She has featured on radio as part of the BBC Proms London Composer Portrait series, and performed at 54 concerts for the "Night of the Proms Tour" in 2003-2004, appearing in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany, to a total audience of over 800,000 people.. She is set to appear in Ireland for the first time to play in The National Concert Hall. Fei is regularly invited to perform concertos with leading orchestras. This season (2011-2012) sees Fei performing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony, the Hallé Orchestra, China National Philharmonic and Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to her solo career, Xuefei Yang regularly appears in collaborations with other musicians. This season (2011-2012) sees her performing chamber music with the Elias String Quartet, giving duo recitals with cellist Jian Wang, and collaborating with tenor Ian Bostridge in a recital at London's Wigmore Hall.

Off-stage, Xuefei Yang is actively expanding the guitar repertoire, with her own arrangements of pieces (with a particular interest in both adding Chinese music to the repertoire, and making significant contributions to the guitar's concerto repertoire), and collaborations with composers (in particular a close collaboration with British composer Stephen Goss). The result is several substantial and exciting new works for the instrument, which have found their way onto the concert stage, and into the recording studio.

Xuefei Yang has an exclusive international recording contract with EMI Classics. Her EMI debut album “Romance de Amor” (2006) achieved gold disc status in Hong Kong, & her second “40 Degrees North” (2008), featuring music from Spain and China was chosen as "Best Instrumental CD of 2008" by Canton Radio station in China, and Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine. Her third CD recorded with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and featuring Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (2010) topped the classical music charts in New Zealand. Fei’s fourth CD of "Bach Concertos" for EMI is on international release from February 2012. It is Xuefei's most innovative recording yet. It features her own transcriptions of the music of J.S.Bach - both solo pieces and concertos (recorded with the Elias String Quartet). Xuefei hopes that these will represent a signification contribution to the baroque concerto repertoire for guitar. Prior to signing with EMI, Fei had released two other CD's: Classical Guitar by Xuefei Yang (1999) and Si Ji (2005, GSP). Si Ji (Four Seasons) contains a number of compositions by Chinese composers, some of which imitate the sounds of traditional Chinese musical instruments. Romance de Amor comprises primarily Spanish repertoire.

Xuefei Yang has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes, including BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour, BBC Proms, BBC TV's Newsnight, & “The Story of Guitar,” ITV's Classic BRIT's, & prime-time national TV in Spain, New Zealand, Portugal, & china. China Central Television made a biographical documentary on Fei for their classical musician series.

"But the star of the evening was the Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang. In Xiaoyong Chen’s Static and Rotation she turned sweet, chiming overtones into a wild sound like a hailstorm on a window. And, playing with similar brilliance in Robert Saxton’s Night Dance, Timothy Salter’s Equipoise premiere and Britten's Nocturnal after John Dowland, Yang’s easeful virtuosity won the day." - Matthew Connolly, The Times (January 14, 2003)
"The enthusiastic reviews that have appeared in the press about this far-eastern prodigy do not seem in the slightest exaggerated after hearing this concert. Xuefei Yang is already among the best guitarists in the world." - Badische Zeitung (July 9, 2002)
"…she left the audience completely enraptured." - Oberbadisches Volksblatt (July 9, 2002)
"It was great to hear you play! I wish you every success in future and hope you will have the opportunity you very much deserve to play in many countries." -
John Williams (1995)

Source: Xuefei Yang Website (January 2); Wikipedia Website (February 2012); Photos 01-06: EMI Classics / Paul Mitchell; Photo 11: Neil Muir
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2012)

Xuefei Yang: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Xuefei Yang - Classical Guitarist (Official Website)
Xuefei Yang (EMI)

Xuefei Yang (Wikipedia)

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