UC Riverside Student to Play Ancient Chinese Instrument at Culver Center

Chuan Qin to play the erhu in a solo show

The erhu is an ancient Chinese instrument. it’s been around for more than 1000 years.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – She started playing at the age of seven. And while most children were out running around and having fun, she was forced to sit at home and practice. Looking back now, Chuan Qin, who goes by Linda, doesn’t mind, because she said she’s one of a few dozen around the world who knows how to play the erhu professionally. And she’s doing it on an international level. Now, she’ll be playing a solo show at the Culver Center in Riverside on Saturday, May 9, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Linda has been playing the erhu since she was 7 years old.

Linda has been playing the erhu since she was 7 years old.

The erhu is a two-stringed bowed instrument, better known as the Chinese violin to the western world. It has a long neck, small body, two strains and one bow. It may look simple and small, but it is one of the most important stringed instruments in traditional Chinese music. The ancient instrument that will take you to a different world of music, Linda said. She explained that years ago, it was a popular instrument for Chinese children to learn. But as time passed, western influence — and its instruments — became more popular in China, and the idea of learning how to play the erhu became old school.

“People assume they’ve never heard the instrument before,” Linda said, “But when they hear me play, they say it sounds familiar, like what they hear in Chinese movies.”

It all started 18 years ago, in one of Linda’s classrooms. The music teacher walked in and asked to see every student’s hands. Linda’s fingers happen to be long and thin, especially her pinky, and this stood out to the instructor. She explained that having long fingers to reach for the strings is a very important feature when it comes to playing the erhu. “It’s like I was meant to play the instrument,” Linda said. The music teacher picked her – she was to learn how to play the erhu. It was destiny.

Linda started a group called Eastern Echo, they played many shows around the U.S.

Linda started a group called Eastern Echo, they played many shows around the U.S.

Linda came to the University of California, Riverside, last year. She’s finishing up a master’s in finance, and graduates in June. She grew up in China, and moved to the United States five years ago when she went to college in Houston. While there, she made friends with a few folks who loved music just as much as she does, and they started a group called, Eastern Echo. They toured and played shows, performing at least once a week. But the May 9 performance will be her first solo show.

“My biggest fear is a string breaking! There are only two strings, so you can’t really continue playing without one,” she explained.

While Linda used to feel forced to practice the instrument, she now considers the erhu a toy, and plays it when she’s happy, upset, or bored. Like a best friend who is always there for her, playing the instrument has become therapeutic for Linda, who can play thousands of songs on it. Her favorite is called “Jasmine Flower.” “People love to hear it,” she says. “It’s a classic Chinese song, but I add my own elements to it. It’s so beautiful and soft.”

For more information on Linda’s performance, visit: https://artsblock.ucr.edu/Performance/Erhu-Recital

Concert at Culver Center on Saturday, May 9, 7-9 p.m.

Concert at Culver Center on Saturday, May 9, 7-9 p.m.

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