Jiang Jianhua makes a long-awaited return to Shanghai for erhu concert

Yao Minji
Jiang Jianhua returned to Shanghai, the city of her birth, for an erhu concert titled "Passion for Homeland."
Yao Minji

Jiang Jianhua, an erhu (a Chinese two-stringed instrument) master, returned to the city of her birth earlier this week for a concert titled "Passion for Homeland."

"Last time, I was a little unsure because I had been away from home for so long," Jiang, who moved to Beijing, said of her performance in 2005, shortly after the 5,650-ton Shanghai Concert Hall was moved 66.46 meters southeast to make space for the Yan'an Elevated Road.

"I wondered if the Shanghai audience still liked my music after all these years. This time, I'm certain."

The concert featured music from Bernardo Bertolucci's feature film "The Last Emperor," for which Jiang recorded the soundtrack in 1987 with Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. The album won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack for Visual Media in 1989.

Jiang Jianhua makes a long-awaited return to Shanghai for <i>erhu</i> concert
Ti Gong

Jiang Jianhua plays the erhu for Shanghai fans earlier this week.

Jiang recalled how the soundtrack, as well as the sound of the erhu, piqued the interest of many young Japanese who attempted to learn the instrument. It also drew the attention of Japanese composers, who began writing for it.
This week, Jiang played the film's theme song with an erhu, pipa (Chinese lute), cello, and piano quartet. She also performed Sakamoto's "Energy Flow."
"Energy Flow," originally composed for a TV commercial in 1999, was the first instrumental music to top Japan's Oricon weekly single chart.
She recalled her first appearance in Japan in 1986 at the inauguration of the Suntory Hall. She performed an erhu concerto written by Japanese composer Kei Anjo and conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
"It was the first time I traveled abroad alone," she recalled. "I'm still proud that a traditional Chinese instrument like the erhu was introduced to a lot of people on a world stage that made headlines."

Jiang Jianhua makes a long-awaited return to Shanghai for <i>erhu</i> concert
Ti Gong

Jiang played the erhu in the award-winning soundtrack of "The Last Emperor."

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