Hitting the right note

Updated: 2011-03-11 10:30

By Zhang Haizhou and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily European Weekly)

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Different notes

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

Violin is a classical string instrument dating back to the 16th century and most performers play the instrument in 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 the younger audiences, too. Ching normally wears high-heel shoes, low-neck dresses, and sometimes short skirts; and often dances fast to the tune of 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 the 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 in the 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 of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in South China, Ching got her first violin as a birthday gift from her mother at the age of four.

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 soon 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 that 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," says Ching.

Luckily, Ching resisted the temptation and went on to make her own 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 of 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 local couple by 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 several of her peers, she is also an ardent fan of networking sites and has more than 1,000 friends on Facebook.

Home roots

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

Ching also has a dream of one day performing in China along with other local musicians. That dream of the orient is very visible when she talks about beautiful Chinese classics and many 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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