Chinese Zither Concert Combines Old and New Traditions
Canadian musicians Mei Han and Randy Raine-Reusch will present a concert of music for the zheng, or Chinese long zither, Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. in Hudson Hall at Willamette University. They will also present a lecture-demonstration, "Zheng: The Chinese Zither," at 4 p.m. that afternoon in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library. Both events are free.
Han and Raine-Reusch collaborate to take the zheng and Chinese music in radical new directions, combining 5,000 years of Chinese musical traditions with new music, world music and jazz. Their performances, which have been described as stunning and energetic, draw on two cultures: Chinese virtuoso Han's deep roots in traditional music and the modern innovations of Raine-Reusch. Han is a rare blend of virtuoso performer and scholar, who has performed on five continents. Her performances have been broadcast nationally in China and Canada, and are included in CDs sold around the world. Raine-Reusch is a composer and performer who has collected more than 700 world musical instruments. Specializing in compositions that utilize instruments from around the globe, he has worked with some of the world's most prominent artists in numerous genres, including Pauline Oliveros, Aerosmith, Yes and The Cranberries.
Han and Raine-Reusch's recent CD, "Distant Wind," reached the top spot on the Canadian College World Music charts, was nominated for a Juno (Best World) and for the West Coast Music Awards (Best Global, Best Instrumental.)
The zheng can be traced back to the 6th century B.C. The instrument has a wooden tube body, 21 plucked strings and movable bridges, and is usually tuned to a pentatonic scale. The zheng is the parent instrument of the Asian long zither family, which includes the koto of Japan. Its sound can be hauntingly melodic, as in much traditional Chinese music, but also expansively contemporary, well adapted to vigorous improvisation and modern soundscapes.