CHINA- Feng Yao was a little bit anxious before he stepped onto the stage of the Art Library at the National Center for Performing Arts on Dec 15. Indeed, for a young cellist who has spent most of his life living and performing in Germany, to give a solo show in his homeland was a challenge.
He opened his show with a piece rarely performed in China - Beethoven's seven variations on theme from Mozart's The Magic Flute. The theme comes from the duet Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen (In Men Who Know the Feeling of Love).
"The piece is sung by sopranos as praise of the love between husband and wife, and I made some changes to adapt it to cello," he said before he played the music. "It is Beethoven's long desire to find a soul mate and he scored the variations for cello and piano, which sounds like the dialogue between husband and wife."
During the two-hour performance, Feng played his instrument while explaining the music pieces, including Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile, Rachmaninoff's Cello Sonata in G Minor Op19 III Andante and Astor Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango. He also played Saint-Saens' The Swan and dedicated it to his mother, who came to his show at the NCPA that day.
After Feng finished his last note and lifted his bow, he saw a full-house audience clapping. Some people were standing.
Later, he was told that not only had some professionals come to his show but also luminaries who do not work in his field, such as rock musicians and filmmakers, as well as ordinary people who have an interest in cello and classical music.
"I didn't expect that audiences in China would grow so fast. Their warm feedback made me excited onstage," says Feng, 32.
Studying at The Univers ity of Music Detmold, one of Germany's leading music schools, from 18, Feng has been the principal cellist of the Schleswig-Holstein Symphony Orchestra since 2008.
He decided to return to China after performing with several symphony orchestras at the NCPA a few years ago. The booming classical music scene in the country prompts the cellist to return frequently.
The show at the NCPA two weeks ago was his first attempt at blending his elaboration and playing. His second stop will be on Jan 4 at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.
"I like adapting music pieces, which are not for cello, into cello versions," says Feng, who first played a cello adaptation from French composer Maurice Ravel's Tzigane at Beijing Concert Hall in 1996, when he was 17.