On the Couch with Xuefei Yang

Xuefei-Yang-courtesy-of-Adelaide-Guitar-FestivalWho is Xuefei Yang?
I am Xuefei Yang. My dad chose my name from a 2000 year old Chinese poem that describes snow falling densely, and expresses a sentimental feeling of a person returning home. I sometimes think that my dad’s genes passed his sentimentality to me, which you may hear from my music.

I would like to call myself an artist rather than guitarist. I feel privileged to be able to explore and appreciate different cultures, and share them through my guitar playing with audiences from across the world.

In life I have chosen the road less travelled. By pursuing a career playing guitar, when no one had taken that path previously in my country China, I’ve come a long way against the odds. So perhaps that indicates that I have a strong personality underneath the usual gentle appearance that you see.

Having grown up in a normal family in China before the millennium, then living in England, and travelling the world for 20 years, I think I developed many sides to my character. I am sensitive, emotional, compassionate, warm, lively, fun and like to indulge in deep thought. I hope all of these facets are somehow reflected in my music making.

What would you do differently from what you do now? 
I would like to have come to the UK earlier to study and develop my musicianship. After I got the first ever BA degree in guitar in China from the Central Conservatoire of music, I received a full scholarship from ABRSM which enabled me to come to study at Royal Academy of Music in London. Being in a such a open artistic environment, with so many amazing people and events, really helped me develop my own artistry.

Who inspires you and why?
A person, a place, a piece of music – many things can inspire me. Collaborating with singers inspires my sense of expression; collaborating with players of melodic instruments inspires my phrasing; collaborating with dancers inspires my sense of rhythm. In fact doing this interview inspires me to reflect on who I am, and my purpose in life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world? 
I encountered music in my life by coincidence. Being able to play an instrument is like having a soulful partner – it has enriched and changed my life. I would like to help or inspire more people to appreciate that enrichment in their own lives.

Favourite holiday destination and why? 
Venice, it has everything I like in one walkable location: water, history, architecture, culture, mysticism, scenery and food.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why? 
I live near the River Thames. A friend is coming to visit me tomorrow, I will take her to have a walk by the river. I think everyone likes to be close to nature. Having a stroll along side the River Thames, you can enjoy beautiful views and feel the local culture too. The River Thames also links me to my latest album Magna Carta! This historic document was signed by King John in 1215 at Runnymede, on the banks of the River Thames.

What are you currently reading? 
I should be asking you this question. I’m currently reading the book reviews in the Sunday newspapers to find a good book for my flight from UK to Australia – with almost 24 hours to fill I want to chose the right one !

What are you currently listening to? 
Lots of jazz on various playlists. I find it enjoyable to relax to.

Happiness is? 
Having good health, lots of love around you, and doing something fulfilling.

What does the future hold for you?
I would hope for a future that looking back, I would have felt I lived a happy life, fulfilled by my achievements, and having had a positive influence on the younger generation, like guitarist John Williams has influenced me.

Xuefei Yang is acclaimed as one of the world’s finest classical guitarists – who will be joined by the Riverside Guitar Ensemble and the Adelaide Guitar Festival Orchestra in Sketches and Orchestrations at Her Majesty’s Theatre on Friday 22 July as part of the 2022 Adelaide Guitar Festival. For more information, visit: www.adelaideguitarfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Xuefei Yang – courtesy of Adelaide Guitar Festival