The bold strings rattled like splatters of sudden rain,
The fine strings hummed like lovers' whispers.
Chattering and pattering, pattering and chattering,
As pearls, large and small, on a jade plate fall.
～ Bai Jyui, Song of the Pipa
Destined to be a child prodigy, Lingling Yu was born in the bay of Hangzhou in south eastern China. Showing a marked disposition for music, an ehru or violin and a pipa or lute were given to her at the age of 8.
Yu’s formal apprenticeship ended when she won first prize in the national competition for traditional music; she was then 25 years old.
Her performance at last night's opening concert promised a virtuoso at the forefront of her musical craft and tonight at the Riad Dar Bensouda venue, Lingling Yu did not disappoint.
A child prodigy who has been playing the pipa lute since the age of 8 and who has studied in Switzerland as well as her native China.
Lingling treated the audience this evening to a range of pieces from the traditional to "Chinese jazz", from pre-Han period to twentieth century compositions and from all four corners of the Middle Kingdom.
The pipa lute is remarkable in its versatility. Although Lingling provided introductions and explanations (in French) to each piece, they were hardly necessary. The dexterity of her interpretation, as she strummed, plucked, stroked and picked the pipa's five strings, occasionally banging the body as well, easily transported the audience across the seas and mountains.
Images of raging dynastic armies or snow falling on the pine-tree lined mountainsides of a classic pen and ink scene came readily to mind, while in other pieces the lute had more of a flamenco guitar or a Middle Eastern sound. For the first of a series of homages to the music and culture of China, we were given a rare treat tonight: an instrument so versatile in the hands of one so expert.
Review and photograph: Lynn Houmdi