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Time out with Viva Girls’ Su Chang

 | May 30, 2012

Su Chang is a member of China's famous instrumental group, Viva Girls.

Creating traditional Chinese music that appeals to younger audiences who love pop music is a challenge the Viva Girls from China are faced with.

The 12 classically-trained female musicians perform on traditional Chinese instruments and blur the lines between American music with the traditional sounds on China.

The result is an amazing modern-traditional musical hybrid with the intention of pleasing pop sensitive audiences, while staying true to the 12 girls’ musicality and eclectic Asian roots.

Among the members of the Viva Girls is Su Chang, a graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music who is known for her expertise in playing the Guzheng.

The Guzheng is a Chinese plucked zither. It has 18-23 or more strings and movable bridges and takes years to master. Among Su’s many accomplishments are: 2007 Silver Medal of The Sixth “Jin Zhong Bei ”Guzheng Competition and the Gold Medal at The CCTV National Music Instrument Competition.

Below is an interview with Su Chang.

How do you feel your training at the Central Conservatory of Music prepared you for your present career?

CCOM’s curriculum combines both western and eastern styles of music for us to study and train. So CCOM students not only are exposed to the most traditional forms of Chinese music, but are also simultaneously exposed to western classical styles as well. It is fertile ground for those students who great passion for music. My teacher and mentor, Ms Zhou Wang, who is a famous Guzheng player and educator, has given me great support throughout my life and career.

Was it difficult leaving your family?

It is always very difficult to leave your family at a young age. I slowly made friends In school and got used to the new environment. My studies and Guzheng training kept me busy enough so I did not have too much time to think about how much I miss my family.

How do you like the use of fashion with the Viva Girls and do you see the group influencing fashion styles?

Viva Girls is a fashionable and sophisticated group that is breaking a lot of new ground. I hope that we can show everyone something very new and special that is both western and eastern, classical and modern and forward thinking and both Chinese and international all at once. Viva Girls is a pioneer in many ways and I think we have our own original style that is starting to influence many other groups.

You won the 2011 Youtube Symphony Orchestra Competition. That is quite an accomplishment. How did you feel after you found out you had won?

It was really like living a dream that had actually come true. It was hard to believe because I only learned about this competition two days before the deadline for entries was going to end. I really did not expect to even be able to finish the video audition let alone win any kind of prize.

Things were so sudden that it was hard to understand what happened. It was really like a dream.

Recently you had the opportunity to play with Grammy Award Winning artist, Kitaro. How was the experience?

Kitaro is really an amazing musician. I admire and respect him deeply. Our first performance together was in San Francisco. Most of the music required me to improvise many parts of my own. I considered this a great challenge and was not sure I could do it. After our collaboration, I grew a lot as a musician and it was a breakthrough in my ability to understand music even more. Thank you Kitaro!

You also travel quite a bit and have seen many parts of the world. Is there any place you particularly liked and that you would want to visit again?

I have many wonderful memories of every place I have visited. I am always reluctant to leave all the places I have been to. Through music I have made friends in many countries and have shared many memories with them.

It is my dream to share the music of the Guzheng with everyone around the world. I hope there are more people in the world that will enjoy the Guzheng and maybe even learn the Guzheng.

Who were your musical influences early on and what artists do you admire now?

It was actually my mother who influenced my music very early on. Every musician has their own special area to offer. I respect and admire many different musicians for this reason.

Is there someone you would like to collaborate with?

I was invited to perform Tan Dun’s Guzheng concerto in Zurich last year.  Luckily at the same time while I was in Switzerland I also had the opportunity to watch Claudio Abbado conduct the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. It was amazing and I was extremely impressed by him!

There are quite a number on girls in the band and you will be travelling quite a bit. How do you all get along?

I am good friends with many of the Viva Girls. Whenever we have a concert, its like a big party. They all have their own personality and fashion styles. I always learn something when we travel together.

What are your hopes for the Viva Girls? Where would you like to see the group in the future?

I hope Viva Girls can continue living our dream to grow and keep sharing our music with the world.

Su Chang YouTube channel

Viva Girls on YouTube

The Viva Girls official site

The Viva Girls at DOMO music

This article is courtesy of www.eyestrane.com and CATS (Creative Asian Talent Agency)


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