Hitting the right note

Updated: 2011-03-21 10:42

By Zhang Haizhou and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

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Hitting the right note
Analiza Ching is a favorite with the British royal family and has played at Windsor Castle. Provided to China Daily

Analiza Ching's distinctive style turns heads in London.

Virtuoso violinist Analiza Ching makes heads turn when she walks into the room. Not only is her music captivating, she also looks vivacious and dresses fashionably. The young Chinese musician is redefining the way the violin is played and giving it a more contemporary feel. Ten years ago when Ching first went to London to study music, she was an ordinary teenager who wanted to make a mark in the world of music.

She joined the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), but found the road was not smooth. She was alone in an alien city, with no friends or family members, and very little money.

To make matters worse, her language proficiency was just the bare minimum.

"I could only speak words like 'hi' and 'how are you'. Coming to the UK was certainly a big adventure," Ching says.

But driven by the desire to make a mark on the music scene, Ching refused to give up and continued her quest.

Apart from practicing music for eight hours daily, Ching supplemented her meager earnings through performances in shows and by giving private tuition to neighboring children.

That hard work seems to have paid off. Ten years later, Ching has given several solo performances.

Sitting in the China Tang restaurant in the Dorchester, one of London's best-known hotels, Ching says she plans to launch her first music album, The Shadow of Love, later this year.

"Shadow lends a bit of mystery, while love is what everybody wants and needs," she says in clear British English about the album, sipping a cup of jasmine tea.

On her left forearm, she wears a red beaded bracelet, a symbol of luck in Chinese culture.

Ching says that she co-composed with her producers all the 13 tunes on the album. "The music is rich and comes with a lot of passion. It is not just beautiful and relaxing music, but very beautiful, exciting and relaxing classical music," she says.

Ching has performed twice for the royal family and also on several important occasions like the recent concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles at the Royal Albert Hall, the mecca for musicians.

On that occasion, she played the legendary Liverpool band's classic tune Yesterday, in her own distinctive style, along with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ching also performed at the opening ceremony of London Fashion Week 2011 in February.

British magazines and publications consider her "one of the most outstanding new musical personalities seen for a long time", while the audiences who have seen her play called her an "emerging talent" and "dramatic violinist".

In the world of contemporary music, Ching is best known for her riveting performances that incorporate vigorous dances that rock the audiences.

The violin is a classical string instrument dating back to the 16th century and most performers play the instrument in a long dress or with a tuxedo.

But in a sign of the times, performers like Ching are giving it a little bit of the oomph factor that makes it appealing to younger audiences, too. Ching normally wears high-heel shoes, low-neck dresses, and sometimes short skirts; and often dances fast to her own music.

Ching's royal connection began after she performed a classical recital for Prince Edward and other royal family members in 2007 at Windsor Castle. It was a crowning moment for her when she was introduced to Prince Andrew.

"He shook hands with me, thanked me for my performance, and enquired about my life at RAM, and said he had never heard any violinist who could play as fast as me," Ching says.

"Music was always in my blood," she says recollecting her early days in China.

Born to a musical family in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Ching got her first violin as a birthday gift from her mother at the age of 4.

Her father was her first violin teacher, and her mother, the dance teacher.

Her first public performance was a rendering of a children's song, The Groundhog, for Chinese air force personnel based in Liuzhou.

"I don't remember the number of people who turned up for that event, but it was certainly a crowd," she says. "Such was the response that I ended up performing the same song to a group of American visitors."

To some extent that was her first international performance.

Realizing his daughter's exemplary skill with the violin, Ching's father decided to give her intense training. "Unlike other children, I did not have much time for games after my classes," she says.

"I was asked to practice on the violin for two hours every day. On hot summer days, I had to continue the practice inside nets, so the mosquitoes did not intrude.

"I was very unhappy in those days as I could not play like normal children. I used to argue a lot with my father and on several occasions felt like throwing away the violin," Ching says.

Luckily, Ching resisted the temptation and went on to make her mark in the music world. "Without my father's push, I would not be what I am today," she says.

After garnering some publicity in Guangxi, Ching joined a two-year program at an academy in Beijing to gain more professional violin training. During those days, her father chanced upon an admission advertisement for RAM and sent them a videotape of Ching. She was just 14 when she got admitted to RAM.

Handicapped by her inability to communicate in English at the beginning, Ching took refuge in her passion - music.

Two years later, she managed to impress a British couple with a performance at a church.

The couple offered her free accommodation in their home and looked after her like their own daughter.

Living in a host family not only helped Ching save money, but also helped improve her English and understanding of the British society. Like many of her peers, she is also an ardent fan of networking sites and has more than 1,000 friends on Facebook.

Though she speaks fluent English, in her heart she still remains a young Chinese girl. "I have always worn this red beaded bracelet," she says.

Ching has a dream of one day performing in China along with other Chinese musicians. That dream of the Orient is very visible when she talks about Chinese classics and tunes like The Butterfly Lovers, that are not just music, but beautiful tales.

"Chinese culture and songs are a big influence on my career. I want to add Chinese classic songs to my album. My dream is to become a world-renowned violinist," she says.


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