I have always considered myself the lucky one, even though I lost both my parents at a very young age. The reason is simple. Even before I finished grade school, at a time when I knew next to nothing about music or anything else, I was handpicked by Cao Zheng, China’s greatest gu-zheng master, to be his personal pupil.
I still have a vivid memory of my first “lesson.” There was no gu-zheng playing at all. Teacher merely gave me a notebook and prodded me to write in it his expectations of me: a music career, diligence, fortitude, dedication, perseverance and contribution to the development of gu-zheng music.
When the frigid Northeast wind blew mercilessly in the winter, Teacher bought me a pair of cotton gloves. When I sprained my ankle from an ice-skating fall, he came to my dorm to give me lessons. When I didn’t have a family to return home to during New Year school breaks, he welcomed me into his own home. The lessons he gave me were about more than just gu-zheng music; he actually spent more time teaching me about classical literature, history, philosophy and life itself. I didn’t know at the time, but upon reflection, I now realize that he wanted me to develop all my potential to become a wholesome human being.
That was 45 years ago. From that time on I have kept my promise to Teacher: learn, work hard, learn some more, work harder yet to improve, and never let ego and complacency get in the way.
Teacher devoted his life to the promotion of gu-zheng music. I shall benefit from his gift for my entire life.
In this CD, my second, I included some of my favorite pieces that I have performed over the last 10 years. It was produced in San Francisco, under the direct supervision of renowned pianist George Winston.
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to George and all my friends, as their continuous encouragement and support helped make this CD a reality. I would also like to thank Howard Johnston, Justin Lieberman, and Tony Espinoza for their superb sound engineering work; and Cathy Econom and her associates at Dancing Cat Productions for their generous support.
I hope this recording will add to the blooming gu-zheng tree Teacher planted years ago.