Without the attention and caring of a dedicated gardener, a seedling can not develop into a sapling. A sapling can not mature into a towering tree without regular trimming and pruning. Now, when I see the 100-plus young musicians -- all highly skilled, enthusiastic, beautiful, and artistically mature -- gathering here today to showcase their talent, and when I consider the complexity and variety of the pieces to be performed, the grand scale of the concert, and the careful thought in putting the program together, I can't help but feel that the baton of the Bay Area traditional Chinese music has been passed to a new generation!

More than twenty years ago, a small group of professional musicians from China came to the Bay Area to start a new life. They took menial jobs as waiters, handymen, and gas station attendants. Some had to work three jobs to survive, and some had to endure the uncertainty of changing their legal status. Despite their limited means, they set aside their personal hardships and got together with other enthusiasts to promote Chinese music. They made sacrifices, worked hard, and persevered in developing a Second Generation of musicians.

These teachers could speak only Mandarin at first, and the Second Generation was American-born and spoke only English. They communicated through eye expressions and body language only most of the time. Yet, in music, they did not experience any communication barriers between them. Gradually, in the process of teaching and learning, they built strong and lasting teacher-student bonds.

Tian Yongping, erhu teacher with the California Youth Chinese Orchestra; Yu Zhang, suona teacher; Ding Jian, dizi teacher; Liu Hecheng, pipa teacher; and Wang Wei, percussion teacher -- each came from a different background, and each became a successful teacher, bringing new horizons to their students and themselves.

As teachers, we must possess a great deal of love and patience, and we need to be flexible in using the right technique and curriculum to suit each student's needs. We must also insist on providing professional-level training, so that the students can progress. As for students, they must maintain a serious attitude, strong determination and sustain focus in order to learn successfully.

Art knows of no boundaries.
The waters wear the stones!

Let all of us, teachers and students, work together to promote Chinese music in the Bay Area, and to elevate the level of our artistic achievement!

For this concert, we have invited the California Youth Chinese Orchestra, China's Spirit Music Ensemble, Tranquil Resonance Studio, Chinese Arts and Music Center, and the Alice Fong Yu Alternative School Guzheng Ensemble. This is a concert where you will see many young new faces. We at the San Francisco Gu-Zheng Music Society have hosted 26 annual concerts so far, but this is the one that I am passionate about. I would like to give special thanks to Stanley To. He has spearheaded many activities to make this concert a reality: raising funds, arranging the program, and providing his wholehearted support. Because of his effort, I got another opportunity, after having announced my retirement a few times, to offer more services to the younger generation.

One tree alone can't even provide shade; it takes a grove of thousands to create the necessary synergy to showcase the unique character of the Chinese culture in this Global Village!

Let us, through the language of music, promote world peace the unity between all peoples!


Weishan Liu

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