Year 2 Applied Translation Studies student Ma Qianqi is not only a violinist in the UIC Orchestra but also plays the Jinghu (Chinese bowed string instrument) in the UIC Traditional Arts Club.

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Ma Qianqi plays the violin

Fascinated by music and traditional culture, Qianqi has learnt how to play the Jinghu for seven years and the violin for 15 years. He participated in many musical performances that have been held on campus. This year, Qianqi, along with his fellow students, founded a Peking Opera orchestra.

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 Ma Qianqi plays the Jinghu in a concert

Coming from Heilongjiang, which is in the very north of China, Qianqi headed to UIC for study. Qianqi explains how at the first High Table Dinner, he was particularly nervous at first as he wanted every performance to be the best. Even after several performances he still feels a little nervous before playing. He has a serious attitude towards music, which his fellow musician, Year 3 Applied Translation Studies student, Ou Yuzhen noticed.

"He is very good at communicating, and he is very demanding of himself. He pays attention to the details of each musical performance. He always tries his best to perform a piece of music that he wants the audience to feel,” explained Yuzhen.


Qianqi (middle) at a High Table Dinner performance

Since he was five years old, Qianqi has been studying the violin and has been practising and playing for almost 15 years. He said he started to learn by himself as his parents did not understand music and as a result, did not deliberately cultivate him. However, due to his love for music, Qianqi believes that it was fate.


The Jinghu is a musical instrument that appears in Peking Opera performances. There was even a desire by Qianqi to pursue studies in a theatre arts school but gave up along the road for various reasons.

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Qianqi (middle) at a Peking Opera performance

Even though Qianqi never fully pursued going to a theatre arts school, he still gets to perform on stage thanks to the support from UIC. Last year he participated in the school's folk music group. This year, he and his classmates set up the TAC Guoyun Peking Opera orchestra to contribute to the promotion of Peking Opera.

His fellow musician, Year 2 Media Arts and Design student, Zhao Yiwei explained that Qianqi is someone working hard while taking his time “step-by-step” to bring the "Soul of Peking Opera". Yizhen continued “Qianqi has a kind of attachment and enjoyment for Peking Opera. When talking about Peking Opera, there is always light in his eyes.”

In many people's impressions, the Jinghu and the violin are polar worlds apart when it comes to instruments as the Jinghu is strong and the sound is a crisp one that represents Chinese traditional culture. In contrast, the violin offers a softer sound and is a classical instrument used in the Western orchestra. “They are not only two different kinds of instruments, but also come from two different cultures,” said Qianqi.

He went on to explain that "The Jinghu is an artistic conception that pursues beauty, while the violin emphasis on more emotional change, as well as more emphasis on practicality and rationality, which is caused by different cultural concepts between China and the West."


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Qianqi believes the Jinghu and the violin are completely different and so he needs to pay attention to his skills when playing the violin while he focuses more on his strength with the Jinghu. However, over time he has found them to be complimentary of each other as he tries to find a harmonious state. Qianqi explains how he tries to find harmony between the two instruments by explaining that he has implemented similar techniques when performing even though the two playing postures are different, “I felt very awkward at the beginning, but later I found that I could integrate the violin technique when playing the Jinghu.”

Qianqi combines the energy from playing both instruments into playing either one so that the Chinese and Western instruments complement each other. He hopes he can continue to pursue his love of the violin while growing his obsession of Peking Opera so that the classics of the East and the West blend in this young artistic soul and gather into their own unique temperament.


Reporter: Wei Xiaojing (IJ Y2)
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Lauren Richardson (MPRO)
(with thanks to the ELC)