Xuefei Yang

Neil Muir


Xuefei Yang is acclaimed as one of the world’s finest classical guitarists. Hailed as a musical pioneer, her fascinating journey began after the Cultural Revolution, a period where Western musical instruments and music were banned. Fei was the first-ever guitarist in China to enter a music school and became the first internationally recognised Chinese guitarist on the world stage.

Fei is one of the few guitarists whose artistry connects with audiences far beyond the guitar fraternity. Her international success has led her to be invited to play in more than 50 countries at numerous prestigious venues and is frequently invited to play with the world’s leading orchestras, and collaborate with artists such as Ian Bostridge, Rosalind Plowright, Sir James Galway.

Gramophone magazine praised her as one of the leading innovators of her generation for continuing to build the guitar repertoire.

Fei has made many acclaimed recordings for major labels. Her first received a gold disc and her second was selected as ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Gramophone magazine. Fei’s recent releases include a solo album “Colours of Brazil,” (Decca), “Songs from our Ancestors” which continues her successful collaboration with Ian Bostridge, EP “One Day in November” (Apple Music) and “Sketches of China” (Decca).



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    08 Apr 17 Recital Herbst Theatre
    San Francisco

    “The high point of the evening was Yang’s arrangement of Sword Dance by Xu Chang-Jun, president of the Tianjin Conservatory of Music. Inspired by poetry from the era of the Tang Dynasty by poet Du Fu, the music portrays images of piercing arrows, flying dragons, and furious lightning with tremolo, rasgueado strums, and percussive attacks. The modal work was written originally written for the liuqin, a four-stringed Chinese plucked instrument with a pear-shaped body. The skillful arrangement and performance opened a new world of sounds for the classical guitar.”
    Scott Cmiel, 10 April 2017, San Francisco Classical Voice

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    22 Sep 16 CD: Songs from Our Ancestors

    With Ian Bostride, recorded at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

    “the converging paths of Ian Bostridge, 49, and Xuefei Yang, 37, have met in a programme of music that conjoins their British and Chinese heritage, while calling upon a gift they share – the capacity to make the voice or instrument express character… Yang, for her part, is able to draw from the guitar the sound of many other instruments, which makes her a particularly exciting accompanist, as versatile as a pianist but capable of greater intimacy.”
    Claudia Pritchard, The Independent, 21 November 2014 

    “There’s a lot going on here, a lot for the ear to assimilate, but it’s a disc that really comes into focus with repeated listens… Yang reinvents herself convincingly throughout the disc – now a troubadour, now a folk musician, now a concert-hall soloist. Her selections from Chinese repertoire are tantalising – hints of an alien musical world that, here, feels far closer than you’d imagine.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone, November 2016 

    “Xuefei Yang’s playing is sensitive, agile and graceful,  both when functioning as accompanist and on the instrumental solos. Although using various guitars throughout, when appropriate she vividly evokes lute,  mandolin and even the Chinese four-stringed pipa  and zither-like guqin, using a  modified seven-string guitar to realise the Mong dynasty tune Flowing Water,  probably dating from Shakespeare’s time.” Recording ★★★★★ Performance ★★★★★
    Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 

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    14 Apr 16
    With the Heath Quartet

    At Nottingham Lakeside Arts

    “First came Xuefei’s own arrangement of Bach’s A minor Violin Concerto.  Just in case this raises any eyebrows, the performance had such integrity and clarity that it penetrated deeply inside the music, shedding light on the musical texture.  The softly spoken guitar was able to engage in an intimate dialogue with colleagues without any danger of being overwhelmed by superior forces. Moderate speeds further enhanced the feeling of translucency.”
    William Ruff, Nottingham Post, 15 April 2016

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    14 Feb 16
    St. Louis Classical Guitar Society at Ethical Society Missouri

    “When Xuefei Yang made her debut nine years ago with the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, she was an intensely impressive performer. In the intervening years, she’s further honed her technique and added some beautiful works to the repertoire…”
    Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post-Dispatch, 14 February 2016

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    02 Oct 14
    With the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Benjamin Northey

    “Guest guitarist Xuefei Yang fronted Rodrigo’s sprightly Aranjuez concerto, facing down some busy, difficult passage work with very few lapses, at her best in the dramatic adagio that retains its impact despite over-familiarity.  This work received clear approbation, clearly a relief for many after the acerbities of Tan Dun’s 1996  Yi2  guitar concerto which juxtaposes the familiar tropes of Spanish flamenco and classic guitar with those of the Chinese lute, the pipa.   Throughout its progress but particularly in a riveting cadenza, the composer employs pretty much every possible sound-production technique for his solo instrument against a deft orchestral framework;  true, not easy listening, but a chameleonic palate-cleanser.”
    Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 2014 

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    03 Dec 13
    92nd St. Y New York

    “In Alberto Ginastera’s Sonata (Op. 47), which highlights the sounds and rhythms of the composer’s native Argentina, Ms. Yang also had a chance to vividly explore the sonic possibilities of her instrument. Ms. Yang, who introduced the program from the stage, jokingly admonished the audience to stay awake during her tribute to the Benjamin Britten centennial: “Nocturnal After John Dowland,” based on the theme from Dowland’s lute song “Come, Heavy Sleep” and the only piece Britten wrote for solo guitar.
    There were alluringly subtle moments, particularly in the final section, an intimacy that also proved effective in her performance of Walton’s ‘Five Bagatelles.'”
    New York Times 5 December 2013 – Viven Schweitzer 

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    25 Apr 13 Shostakovitch & Villa Lobos
    Peristyle Theater

    “Yang, a young and gifted Chinese artist, set a high bar for performance excellence, which the symphony easily matched during two numbers featuring the guitar.”
    The Toledo Blade 21 Apr 2013

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    10 Mar 12

    “With wonderful music flowing through the six strings of her guitar, the classical guitarist struck a chord with everyone in the audience…Xuefei Yang’s guitar skills and performance were impeccable”, 11 March 2012

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    01 Feb 12 Bach Concertos
    EMI recording, with the Elias String Quartet

    “The violin concertos sound more crisp and angular on the guitar – the difference is especially apparent in the slow movements – but Yang does a fine job of smoothing out the edges so as to retain some of the music’s lyrical flow, and the harpsichord writing takes on a gentler and more sonorous demeanor. It helps that Yang’s playing is nimble and rhythmically acute.”
    The San Francisco Chronicle, 26 February 2012

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    22 Jan 12 RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez
    Hallé Orchestra

    “The Halle played host to one of the world’s finest classical guitarists as Beijing-born Xuefei Yang took centre stage for a performance of Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez.” The UK-based musician wowed the audience with her precision and feeling.”
    Oldham Chronicle, 23 January 2012

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    09 Jan 12 RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez
    Barcelona Symphony Orchestra

    “Aranjuez was played by a first-rate guitarist, who was centre of attention in the slow melancholic movement with a defined and warm touch…”
    La Vanguardia, 9 January 2012

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    05 Nov 11 Concert November 2011
    Detroit Symphony Orchestra

    “Xuefei Yang, using light amplification, played with an alluring marriage of virtuosity and emotionalism, offering cleanly articulated ornamentation and running passages but also deeply felt flamenco expression.”
    Detroit Free Press, 5 November 2011