Armenian 'star' musician chases dreams in China

Xinhua
Armenian violinist Astrid Poghosyan, whose Chinese name is Ma Xingxing, currently works as an executive assistant to the president of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
Xinhua
Armenian 'star' musician chases dreams in China
Ti Gong

Ma Xingxing

Armenian musician Astrid Poghosyan takes great pride in the Chinese name she picked for herself, Ma Xingxing.

The given name "Xingxing," literally meaning stars, is inspired by her Armenian first name, while the surname "Ma" is taken from Ma Chao, a famous warrior from China's Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD).

Poghosyan, a 28-year-old violinist, currently works as an executive assistant to the president of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, a celebrated orchestra in China's most populous metropolis.

This summer, she has been busy making preparations for a series of in-person and online music events and cultural exchange programs, including a music festival in Shanghai and a livestreamed international violin contest.

Poghosyan said she always puts all her energy into the projects in which she is involved, whether they are offline or online events, as she believes that every little effort will help her realize her music-related dreams.

"I believe music knows no borders, and cultural exchanges via music are especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

Having studied and worked in China for 12 years, Poghosyan has now become a real China hand, versed in the country's language and culture. Such a multicultural background has certainly helped her excel at her current job.

"Poghosyan plays a very special role in our orchestra," said Zhou Ping, the president of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. "She has lived in China for a long time and loves the Chinese culture, and she knows how to use the advantage of a multicultural background in her work."

Armenian 'star' musician chases dreams in China
Ti Gong

Ma Xingxing

For Poghosyan, the life she now leads is a far cry from when she first came to China in 2009 to study violin at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Then just 16 years old, Poghosyan could not speak a word of Chinese. "And my high-school-level English wasn't of much help at that time," she said. "So I decided to learn Chinese to solve the communication problem."

Her love for Chinese culture, including Jackie Chan movies and stories of Mulan, helped her through the difficult language-learning process.

As she gradually immersed herself in the Chinese language and culture, she also started to make Chinese friends and explore the vibrant city life of Shanghai.

"Since I first came to Shanghai, I have always been impressed by the kindness and friendliness of the people here," she said.

"Even when I couldn't speak Chinese, in the first days, everyone I met gave me a big smile, whether they were sanitation workers on the streets or cashiers in convenience stores. Their smiles have made me feel the warmth of the city," she said. "And I've been so lucky to feel such warmth every day."

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