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Hong Wang's Music of China And Everywhere

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Aaron Mayes

You could call him Las Vegas’s ambassador of Chinese culture.

Hong Wang is been spreading around his love of traditional Chinese music and what he calls the New Classical music.

You use the term new classical. What do you mean by that?

The three musicians are educated in classical music. We want to improve the music because young people want to hear a different sound. We’re always talking about a sound. That’s why we say, ‘we don’t we do something based on the classical, but we want to have new sound.’

Some people call this world music:

Yes, world music usually is acoustic, no electronic editing of music, but we add tracks. We’re using new techniques to make like a movie sound. So we mix the movie ideas and the classical, of course, our traditional music too.

What was your training like?

When I first started, I was a singer. I sang Chinese opera, and of course, the revolutionary song during that time. Then I accidentally hurt my back, and my teacher asked why don’t you play an instrument.

When you learn opera, you also learn acrobatic skills.

What led you to Las Vegas?

About 10 years ago, I moved to here because my wife survived an earthquake [in the Bay Area where they were living at the time] and she said she wanted to move somewhere else. 

Support comes from

Hong Wang joined in our studios. He’s brought a couple of recordings with him and a couple of instruments, too.

Hong Wang playing a wind instrument known as a xun, which he made himself from red clay.

Hong Wang holding an instrument known as the sheng flute

Ehru

Tell us about your composition “Timeless”:

This one is for my tour to China last year. It’s just like nostalgia. All the memories come out. I use a wind instrument. The other is the string instrument we call the erhu. 

You’ve said you want to preserve traditional Chinese music:

The very difficult part is after 1960s and later in the 70s, after the Cultural Revolution, most folk musicians passed away.

Do you find younger people are hungry for this type of tradition music?

Most young people are influenced by the western music, especially recently. Of course, you want to know where is our tradition. That’s my duty I say. That’s why I go back to China to do a few works and to record folks sounds to bring back to reproduce them. So, we mixed the new ideas with the tradition.  

From Desert Companion: Notes from the east 

Guests

Hong Wang, Las Vegas-based musician

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