Chinese guitarist to make Toledo debut


Xuefei Yang, Chinese guitarist, who will make her Toledo Symphony debut this weekend, was born in 1977, one year after the Cultural Revolution ended. By then, purges forced on the country by Mao Zedong had stripped away so much of China’s long musical tradition that, when Yang, at age 6, expressed a desire to study classical guitar, her parents were at a loss to find a teacher for the instrument.

Western classical musicians and conservatories were struggling to stay alive. Role models for the young musician were nowhere to be found.

But in Beijing, the young Xuefei (zhway-fay) persisted, becoming the first guitarist in China to enter a music conservatory. By age 10, she had made her debut at the China International Guitar Festival, where the Spanish ambassador presented her with a concert instrument.

At her 1991 debut in Madrid, she performed for famed Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. Australian superstar guitarist John Williams was so impressed by her playing in 1995 he gave two famed Greg Smallman guitars to the conservatory where she studied.

Yang became the first Chinese student to win a full international scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she completed postgraduate studies and won the Principal’s Prize.

Today, she is on the short list of must-hear guitarists, a dedicated, gifted, and ambitious artist. Yang, who prefers to be called Fei, not only performs standard concert works but also transcribes works for violin, keyboards, and more for her guitar.

Chances are, when she performs Rodrigo’s beloved Concierto de Aranjez with the Toledo Symphony, she will play on the Smallman, although she also uses several other instruments, depending on the music. She’s also to perform Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Guest conductor Maximiano Valdes, a native of Chile, will lead the program, which opens with the brassy and spirited Huapango, by Mexican composer Juan Pablo Moncayo. Valdes trained in orchestra and opera conducting, and has maintained careers in both specialties.

The concerts will wrap up with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, written in 1945, and espoused by Rumanian composer Sergiu Celibidache, with whom Valdes studied. Tickets are $20-$60 at 419-246-8000 or

It’s the University of Toledo’s weekend to sing.

First, vocal faculty Denise Ritter Bernardini and Don Bernardini will present a cabaret, with pianist Michael Boyd, at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Toledo Museum of Art Great Gallery. The program is free.

Second, the UT Concert Chorale and Community Chorus will perform its annual spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Olivet Lutheran Church, 5840 Monroe St., Sylvania.

Stephen Hodge will conduct a program including Mozart’s Mass in C Major with soloists and strings, along with other musical selections. The concert is free.

Simply Strings, a benefit for the ministries of several Toledo Diocesan female communities in the area, will bring a Toledo Symphony chamber ensemble to the Valentine Theatre for a 2 p.m. concert Sunday. On the program will be Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Sharing host duties will be the Little Sisters of the Poor, Sisters of Notre Dame, of St. Francis Sylvania and Tiffin, and the Ursulines.

Tickets are $50 for the concert and $100 for a pre-concert event and the music. For tickets call 419-242-2787 or

Events at Bowling Green State University in the coming week include the following:

World Percussion Night, with drummers performing a global array of styles, techniques, and instruments, 8 p.m. today, Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. The event is free.

The following events all are ticketed. Information is available at 419-372-2181.

The BGSU men’s and women’s choruses will sing at 8 p.m. Friday in Kobacker, directed by Timothy Cloeter and Sandra Frey Stegman. The Collegiate Chorale will sing at 8 p.m. Saturday in Kobacker Hall, conducted by Cloeter. The Bowling Green Philharmonia will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday in Kobacker. Emily Freeman Brown will conduct. Joining the orchestra will be the University Choral Society. Works by Ravel, Copland, and Britten are on the program.

The Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra will present a free concert at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Start High School, 2010 Tremainsville Rd. Both Concert and Philharmonic ensembles will perform under the batons of Wasim Hawary and Robert Mirakian. Featured performers will be winners of the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition: cellists Joanna Peng and Robert Myak, and guitarist Cole Roberson.

The Perrysburg Symphony Chorale announces its Madrigal Fest, a celebration of spring in choral frivolity, at 7 p.m. April 26 in Trinity Episcopal Church, 316 Adams St. Conductor Wayne Anthony will lead the group in roundelays, madrigals, caches, and fa-las and other early musical forms. Tickets are $8-$10 at the door or in advance, at 419-243-1231.

The Toledo Symphony is organizing an excursion to the Chautauqua Institute, the venerable center for education, arts, and spirituality in western New York state, this summer. Slated for July 24-27, the trip will include luxury coach transport, rooms in the historic Athenaeum Hotel, all meals, lectures and discussions, and a wealth of dance, theater, symphony, opera, and pop music performances.

The cost is $1,025 (double room). A deposit of $100 will hold a spot for this popular trip organized by Ellen Critchley Pittman of the symphony. For information, contact Critchley Pittman at or call 419-535-0068.

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