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Shen Fanxiu, China's First Pipe Organ Promoter
    2008-03-14 16:45:34     CRIENGLISH.com

    Although named "king of all instruments", the pipe organ is still somewhat strange to the Chinese people. A pipe organ music week that just concluded in the National Grand Theatre attracted much attention from music fans and young students.
    People are showing growing interests in the mysterious instrument. Shen Fanxiu, China's top pipe organ performer, and one of the organizers of the music week, has played a significant role in promoting the instrument to the Chinese public. Our reporter Xiaoyu has more.

Shen Fanxiu [Photo source: sohu.com

 

Shen Fanxiu is one of the very few pipe organists in China today.

Started learning music at the age of six under her family's influence, Shen Fanxiu firstly studied piano and worked as a piano teacher after graduation from college. In 1990, she went to Austria to pursue further study and entered University of Music and Dramatic Performing Arts in Vienna studying harpsichord. It was the first time that she got to touch a pipe organ and chose it as a selective course. Shocked by the music played from the huge instrument, Shen Fanxiu decided to learn pipe organ as a major and got her Master's degree later. 

"When you are sitting in front of the pipe organ, you would feel like a king because you are controlling such a huge instrument." 

Studying under the most famous pipe organist Rudolf Scholtz, Shen Fanxiu not only learned how to play a pipe organ, but also learned much about how to be a teacher and promoter of the instrument. Since Shen Fanxiu was the first Chinese student to learn how to play the pipe organ, the master expressed his strong wish that Shen should go back to China and promote the instrument in her home country. 

"He was training me at that time, and I've thought a lot about how I would teach others if I was a teacher." 

In 2000, Shen Fanxiu came back to China and worked as an associate professor in the Central Conservatory of Music, teaching Baroque music. From then on, she started her attempts of making more Chinese people know about the pipe organ music. 

To most Chinese people, pipe organ is a mysterious instrument that can only be seen in foreign movies, many people don't even know what it is called. Although some theatres and concert halls have installed pipe organs, they mainly act just as furnishings most of the time. Shen Fanxiu felt that the only way to make the pipe organ commonly known is to let more people listen to its music. She attended a number of concerts cooperating with many prestigious orchestras in China. Receiving warm responses from the public, she decided to hold some pipe organ solo concerts in big cities. 

"Music is a universal language that can influence people unconsciously. It is important to make more people get interested in pipe organ music and then they will introduce it to others."

Besides teaching courses in music schools, Shen Fanxiu also conducts a series of pipe organ lectures to the public. During the Pipe Organ Music Week earlier this month, she held three special lectures introducing the instrument as well as its music to the audience, and a lot of people showed great interest in the pipe organ and inquired about how to learn it. 

"You should gradually guide the audience on how to listen to the pipe organ music while they are not familiar with it. Later I may try to recompose some Chinese folk songs or music and play them with other instruments like violins."

Now what you are listening to is Wind and Dust, a work combining the pipe organ and Chinese traditional instruments. It was performed by Shen Fanxiu cooperating with Central Nationalities Orchestra of China in February 2008. This was the first try of combining pipe organ with eastern instruments, and it has received favorable appraises from all sides. 

As baroque music is normally too exotic to the Chinese audience, Shen Fanxiu purposively designed different courses to different audience groups. She chose some simple works for lectures to youngsters and asked the kids to touch and feel the pipe organ themselves. She hopes that more young people will become interested in the instrument so that more people will be interested in learning it. 

"We have 1.3 billion people in China. If there are even only a very small bit of them interested in the pipe organ, it would be quite a huge group. And I may select a considerable number of students from them." 

Currently, Shen Fanxiu is talking with the National Center of Performing Arts to see if she can hold regular free lectures introducing the pipe organ to the public. She's also applying to set up a compulsory course of the instrument in the Central Conservatory of Music. Talking about the future development of the pipe organ in China, Shen Fanxiu is quite confident. 

"I believe that the development of the pipe organ will get better and better in the next ten to twenty years. It will be more welcomed in China. More and more people will learn it and the music will be used in more areas."

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