Sounds of Shanghai
Duo You Lan meets the Indigo String Quartet

You Lan
•  Xu Feng Xia, guzheng
•  Gunda Gottschalk, violin

Heike Haushalter, Petra Stalz, violins,
•  Monika Malek, viola,
•  Gesa Hangen, cello.

Xu Feng Xia and Gunda Gottschalk, two musicians who have been working together as the You Lan Duo (“You Lan” means dark orchid) since 1995, are linked by a similar spiritual attitude to music. Their classical education ensured they were both firmly anchored in their respective musical cultures. They find in improvised music a language in which an idiosyncratic aesthetic effect grows out of their joint musical roots. Alongside their frequent international concert appearances in the field of improvised music, both artists have for some time been working on compositions dealing with various concepts.



The Sounds of Shanghai project, which was their brain­child, focuses on Chinese culture and addresses its position in relation to contemporary western music.

They were able to persuade the Indigo String Quartet from Wuppertal to join them in this collaboration. It is an ensemble known for its wide aesthetic spectrum and taste for improvisation. The members of Indigo have been together since 1992. They take part in both jazz and rock music projects and perform contemporary music (including incidental music and first performances).

Xu Fengxia’s compositions create a new world of sound for traditional Chinese art songs. Experimental tone qualities, the use of the human voice and elements of free improvisation give the old musical themes a dimension, which allows the ancient musical tradition to reach out across 5,000 years and provide new experiences. The pieces arranged for the ensemble by Gunda Gottschalk provide a Western view of Chinese classical music. Using recordings made in Shanghai (at the school for traditional music, street sounds and temple incantations) as well as the aleatoric principles that govern the ancient Chinese game of Mah Jong, Chinese elements are dissected and reassembled in a different form.

China is an ambitious, expanding economic power and an investment mecca for the capitalist world, which already has its place in the global market. In light of this development, it is interesting to highlight old Chinese traditions and analyse their relevance today, before they perhaps founder in the maelstrom of progress...