From March 29 to April 10, Ma Xiaohui assembled a host of musicians for a series of 5 performances in various venues throughout Shanghai and the nearby island of Chongming.� The performers� included� Le Zhang, the concertmaster of the Shanghai Philharmonic, the principal cellist of the Phil, a percussionist who is a member of the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra, a free-lance percussionist who played the dagu, a free-lance traditional flutist (dizi), her trusted Pang on yangqing, a guzheng player, another violinist: � Mr. Deng; an itinerant jazz bassist on bells, and numerous children in various venues who performed on their erhu’s. Photos:� Liu at the dagu, Pang at the yangqin, & Dr. Xu joins us in rehearsal at Hua Shan hospital.
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� It was quite an entourage.� We would meet at her flat at 8 a.m., get on a bus, and spend the next 12 to 16 hours driving, doing tech and dress rehearsals, huge luncheons (OK, feasts), performing, photo sessions, BIG feast, return home.� For me, the highlights were at an elementary school and at the prestigious Hua Shan Hospital, where we performed for a couple hundred doctors, nurses and staff.� The President of the hospital, Dr. Xu Jian-Guang joined us on stage and performed a couple of sentimental songs and the famous “Horse Race in the Grasslands”.� Everything was photographed and videotaped, and we were on the news several times during the two weeks.�
The core musicians became quite silly after awhile, and we had a great time together.� It was a little like summer camp.� � The children who played were very disciplined, with excellent intonation, and completely rehearsed.� In fact, we did not even rehearse with them: they just came up on stage and played with us without a hitch as if this was something they did every day.� Of course, the parents were ecstatic, and the photo sessions went on for some time afterwards.�
� I would like to say a word about Le Zhang.� He is one of the finest musicians I have ever had the honor to perform with.� His playing � is extremely sensitive, which I find very unusual for an orchestral player, and furthermore his sensitivity to Ma Xiaohui’s erhu playing was truly unexpected.� He lent great contrast while understanding very well what Xiaohui was doing with the erhu.� The timbre’s of the these two instruments are quite different from each other, and Le took advantage of that fact while playing lines that made sense with what came from the erhu.�
� This is not to take away from the wonderful playing of Mr. Deng, who’s playing livened up many a performance.� Mr. Deng plays with great thoughtfulness, and he brought a personal warmth to the ensemble.