News - June 11, 2013

Chinese Zither

Did you know the music corner in Wageningen? A group of musicians gather in a café and play various instruments from their countries. It's a festive afternoon every first Sunday of the month.

The gezellige music corner
The first time I visited there was two months ago. After a cosy walk in Aboretum, my friend and I decided to go to the city for a drink. When passying by the café 't Gat, we heard some music wafting from the back side of the building. It was from the café De Zaaier. A circle of people were sitting at the table and playing assorted musical instruments, violins, bagpipes, harmonica, etc. It seemed a hilarious musical hotpot.
Among the musical jungle a huge string instrument stood out, a Chinese zither! It took up a quarter of the space of the table. And it was played by a Chinese girl.
They played their repertoire one after another clockwise, and the Chinese girl was the last to perform. After her first few plucks on the strings, the whole room turned quiet. Although I had expected the zither's unique timbre would definitely catch people's attention, I was still surprised to see everyone, really everyone, stopped what they were doing and fully attended to the music. And she didn't disappoint the interested crowd. What came out of her zither was not the lifeless tones but the vivid roar of the sea storm, or the flow of the stream. Time appeared frozen the moment she finished her last touch of the string. A wild applause burst afterward.
Obviously her music enchanted everyone there.
I assumed that Chinese culture may be too profound to be understood. I was wrong. It's so ironic that people can appreciate the abstract music better than the Made-in-China commodities or the Wok take-away. I, indeed, felt a bit guilty that I had underestimated the connoisseurship of the Europeans and the charisma of the culture of my country. Thanks for such a lesson that little girl gave me. If you can play music, don't be shy of joining this music corner!
Vid of the Week I taped the show of the Chinese girl as well.