Chi Li and the UCLA Chinese Music Ensemble

Chi Li, Director

Mei Zhou Blundell, yangqin; Yi-Jui Chang, dizi, xiao; Yiwen Fang, zheng; Yingying Hong, zheng; Yijia Sheng, dance; Zihui Yu, voice; Meimei Zhang, qin; Anyun Zheng, erhu; Karen Zhu, liuqin, ruan

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 7 p.m.
Drinkward Recital Hall

A half body shot of Chi Li playing the erhu.
Chi Li, erhu. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Bu Bu Gao (Higher at Every Step) (1938)
Lu Wencheng

from the Music Manuscript of Zi Yuan Tang (1801)
“Ou Lu Wang Ji”(“Seabirds No Ulterior Motives”)
Liu Zhifang

Duet: Meimei Zhang, qin; Yi-Jui Chang, xiao

Gao Shang Liu Shui (Steep Mountain and Flowing Water)

Yingying Hong, zheng solo

Tai Hu Mei (The Beautiful Lake Tai) (1978)
Long Fei
arranged by Fu Peihua

Pu Tao Shu Le (The Grapes Have Ripened) (1985)
Wang Guowei

Duet: Anyun Zheng, erhu; Mei Zhou Blundell, yangqin

Qin Chuan Shu Huai (Qin River Capriccio) (1980)
Ma Di

Yi-Jui Chang, dizi solo

Tian Shan Shi Hua (Poems and Paintings of Tian Mountains) (1984)
He Huang

Mei Zhou Blundell, yangqin solo

Shan Bei Hao (The Wonderful Shaanbei) (1964)
Gao Ming

Ba Gen Lu Chai Hua (A Song in the Rice Field)
arranged by Wang Aikang

Chun Jiang Hua Yue Ye (Moonlit Night at Spring River)

Yijia Sheng, dance; Yi-Jui Chang, xiao; Yingying Hong, zheng

from Chang Sheng Dian (The Palace of Eternal Life) (1688)
“Jing Bian” (“Shocking Mutiny”)
Hong Sheng

Zihui Yu, voice; Yi-Jui Chang, dizi

Er Quan Ying Yue (Moonlight Reflected in the Second Spring) (1940s)
Hua Yanjun

Chi Li, erhu solo

Yu Da Ba Jiao (Raindrop Pounding on the Banana Tree)

Chi Li is a highly accomplished performing artist on the erhu and prolific educator of Chinese music. After graduation from the Conservatory of Chinese Music (Beijing), she served as the erhu soloist at the National Traditional Orchestra of China, the most renowned orchestra of Chinese music instruments, and performed in presidential concerts in Beijing frequently in the 1980s. In the United States she has been featured in concerts held at prestigious venues, such as Madison Square Garden (New York), Ronald Reagan Building (Washington D.C.), and Avery Fisher Hall/Lincoln Center (New York). She has performed as a soloist for many motion pictures including 2019 Oscar animated short film winner “Bao”. She is co-founder of the China Traditional Performing Arts Institute, advisor to the Los Angeles Chinese Music Ensemble, and director of the San Fernando Valley Chinese Music Ensemble. Li has been a faculty member in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology since 1998.

The current Chinese Music Ensemble at UCLA was formed in 1997 under the direction of Li. The Ensemble is made up mostly of undergraduate and graduate students at UCLA, from a variety of majors, who study the full range of Chinese musical instruments with Li. At its largest, the Ensemble features sixty or more students performing classics for the modern Chinese orchestra; it also includes several subgroups specializing in different genres, such as Peking Opera, Kun Opera, percussion music, folk dance, and traditional regional chamber music repertoire.


Bu Bu Gao
(Higher at Every Step) (1938) by Lu Wencheng is a popular Cantonese melody. The title implies a wish for continuing success.

“Ou Lu Wang Ji” (“Seabirds No Ulterior Motives”) composed by Liu Zhifang (1171-1240) and transcribed in the Music Manuscript of Zi Yuan Tang (1801) depicts a story in the book of Liezi from the Han dynasty (202BC – 220AD). The story features an old fisherman who never noticed the birds. Amused with his aloofness, many birds flew right up to him. Then, when he thought that he would catch one of the birds, they never approached him again.

Gao Shang Liu Shui (Steep Mountain and Flowing Water)is a Zheng music piece composed in the Zhejiang Zheng style. The beginning depicts the spirit of towering mountains. Then there is the sound of trickling brooks and breezes blowing through the pine and bamboo forest. Gradually, the many trickling streams collectively become waterfalls roaring and rushing down the ravine creating a thriving scenery of vitality.

Tai Hu Mei (The Beautiful Lake Tai) (1978) is an ensemble piece arranged by Fu Peihua from a popular song of the same title composed by Long Fei. The melody is made of the traditional folk song style from the southern region of Jiangsu Province. The music depicts the beauty of the Jiangnan scenery.

Pu Tao Shu Le (The Grapes Have Ripened) (1985) by Wang Guoweiis composed with Xinjiang Uygur music elements. It depicts a scene of people singing and dancing to celebrate their grape harvest.

Qin Chuan Shu Huai (Qin River Capriccio) (1980) by Ma Di is a dizi solo piece composed from Wanwanqiang, a regional opera tune from Northwestern China. The music uses dramatic vibrato and other typical Wanwanqiang styles to portray the vast mountain region and the Northwesterners’ honest, passionate character.

Tian Shan Shi Hua (Poems and Paintings of Tian Mountains) (1984) by He Huang is a yangqin solo piece reflecting the rich cultural blend flourishing in the Tian mountains region. Tian Shan, the Mountains of Heaven, is a mountain range that spans the border between Xinjiang, China and Kyrgystan.

Shan Bei Hao (The Wonderful Shaanbei) (1964) by Gao Ming is an ensemble arrangement of a solo piece for the high pitched bamboo flute, the bangdi. The melody is in the style of northern Shaanxi Province which features loud and clear sounds, bold glissandos, and sharp contrasts.

Ba Gen Lu Chai Hua (A Song in the Rice Field) arranged by Wang Aikang is a popular folk song from Jiangsu Province located in the southern part of China. This song used to be sung by peasants working in the rice field.

Chun Jiang Hua Yue Ye (Moonlit Night at Spring River)

Spring sees river tide rise just as that in the sea,
Where the bright moon is rising along with the tide.
With rolling waves it glitters simply far and wide.
Where on the river would the full moon’s light not be?

The river winds its way around where flowers grow
That all resemble snow drops tiny in the moonlight.
You see no frost in the air on such a Spring night,
Nor can you tell apart the beach sand and the snow.

The water and the sky merge into a pure whole.
Up in the sky hangs the bright moon high all alone.
Who on the riverside saw first the rising moon?
When did the moon above shine first upon the soul?

“Jing Bian” (“Shocking Mutiny”) by Hong Sheng is an aria from the Kun opera Chang Sheng Dian (The Palace of Eternal Life). The scene features Emperor Tang Xuanzong (713-756 A.D.) and his favorite concubine, Yang Yuhuan, who are enjoying a garden in front of the Palace of Eternal Life. Kun opera is often described as China’s “classical” opera, where the main melodic instrument is the dizi.

Er Quan Ying Yue (Moonlight Reflected in the Second Spring) (1940s) by Hua Yanjun uses traditional variation techniques.  With its mild tone and lingering melody, it pours out the sad feelings of a grieved soul who has suffered an unhappy life, but also gives the impression of an unyielding spirit fighting against fate and preserving aspirations towards life and freedom.  The tone of the music is unsophisticated and bold, the message profound.  It is believed that the theme is derived from a folksong and from theater music popular in the southern Yangtze River region, not far from Shanghai.  The composer, also known as Abing, was an impoverished blind folk musician from the city of Wuxi near Shanghai. This piece and five others were recorded from his playing shortly before his death in 1950, and have since become staples of the modern Chinese instrumental repertoire.

Yu Da Ba Jiao (Raindrop Pounding on the Banana Tree) is a well-known piece of traditional Cantonese music.  It originates from Guangdong Province in southeast China, the region around Hong Kong.  Banana leaves are washed by spattering rain and blown by gusts of wind.  Raindrops drip onto the leaves.  After the rain, the sky is clearer and everything looks refreshed.  The lively melody expresses the enjoyment of watching and appreciating the work of nature.


Dizi is a transverse bamboo flute with six finger holes, a mouth hole, and a hole covered by a thin bamboo membrane which gives the instrument wavering poignant sound. There are more than 160 pieces of 7000 years old bone di surface in China He Mu Du.

Qin is an unbridged seven-stringed zither with over 3000 years of history. There are more than 3,600 known ancient qin compositions collected in nearly 130 qin manuscripts. Other than regular notes, it has 119 playable harmonics.

Ruan is an early Chinese plucked lute having a round body and a long fretted neck with four strings, which are plucked with a plectrum. It has about 2100 years of history.

Erhu is a two-string lute with the horsehair of the bow held in between the two strings. It has about 1000 years of history.

Zheng is a long bridged zither with varying sizes and twenty-one strings plucked with real or synthetic nails.

HMC is deeply grateful for the generous support that created The Ken Stevens ’61 Founding Class Concert Series.

Skip footer and return to header
Skip footer and return to header