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Recent and Upcoming
(Comment on performance venues 1)
My first : with Tong Kin-Woon and Sun Yü-Ch'in,  
25 April 1978, the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre 2  

March/May 2024: Screenings of "Music Beyond Sound: An American's World of Guqin", Beijing
(9 screenings)

29 May 2024: morning:"2024短影片創作與跨文化傳播國際學術論壇 2024 International Academic Forum on Short Video Creation and Cross-Cultural Communication"
Presentation at Shanghai Normal University on cross cultural aspects of interpreting the melody "Wine Mad"

4 April 2024: 3:30 PM: Solo program at Haidian North Cultural Center, Beijing (北京海淀北部文化中心)
古琴於飛 Guqin in flight

6-8 April 2023, Bard College Conservatory of Music, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Ancient Echoes and New Sounds, Guqin in the 21st Century (Bulletin)
Outline of my presentation, A Path to New Music as well as Old

26 January 2023, 7 PM, Weehawken Nutrition Center, Weehawken, New Jersey
Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) program for solo silk-string qin

October-November 2022: Screenings of "Music Beyond Sound: An American's World of Guqin", Hong Kong
First "post pandemic" screenings)

25 November 2019: 6:30 PM: Solo program at Haidian North Cultural Center, Beijing (北京海淀北部文化中心)
Same program as 9 November

23 November 2019, 6.30 PM: Solo program at Shijingshan District Library, Lugushe Branch, Beijing (北京石景山區圖書館 [魯谷社分館])
Same program as 9 November

10 November 2019, 6.30 PM: Solo program at Chenxiang Hall, Hangzhou (杭州市清波門荷花池頭1號(河坊街),承香堂二樓; image; flyer)
Qin Sharing Program”; same content as 9 November; 唐世璋古琴分亭會:琴谷古琴工作室孤竹君預約 organised by 陸海 Lu Hai (Guzhu Jun; 圖章 seal)

9 November 2019, 6.30 PM: solo program at Jiawushan Hall, Shanghai (上海市普陀區凯旋北路1555弄清水湾花园15号楼101室,甲午山堂)
絃歌不輟Playing and Singing without Stopping", a version of "Qin melodies for Confucian learning" (organized by 董岫婷 Dong Xuting; details; flyer)

8 November 2019, 5.30 PM: Film feature at 復旦大學 Fudan University, Shanghai (poster)
Show the documentary film Music Beyond Sound", then play and talk (host: 復旦藝術教育中心)

31 August 2019, 5.30 PM: "Music Beyond Sound: An American's World of Guqin", at Broadway Cinema, CityPlaza, Tai Koo Shing, Hong Kong
Premiere of a two hour doocumentary film about my work, at the 2019 Hong Kong Movie Movie Festival "Life is Art"

08 October 2018, 3.00 PM: Peking University, Solo event, a Humanities Lecture "Guqin Recital with Sharing"
"Great Ming Silk String Zither Music", organized by Prof. Bi Minghui

07 October 2018, 3.30 PM: Solo guqin event in the Beijing Minsheng Art Museum (near 798)
北京民生現代美術館 9号恒通國際創新圓區內
"Return to the Sources" (details)

04 March 2018, 3.45 PM, Tai-Yi Daoism School, Hong Kong: Introducing Guqin through Melodies with a Daoist Theme
A program for the "Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Society"; a few melodies with Confucian themes added for contrast.

15 November 2017, 3.30 PM: Solo guqin event at the Arizona Senior Academy, Tucson
"The Guqin, from Ancient China to Outer Space", a narrated performance similar to the one on 12 November at MIM

12 November 2017, 1.00 PM: Solo guqin event at MIM (Music Instrument Museum, Phoenix)
"Guqin Silk-Stringed Zither Music Associated with Henan Province", a narrated performance connected to the MIM exhibition Ancient Musical Treasures from Central China

7 April 2017, 6 PM: Solo guqin performance at the Phoenix Art Museum
Elegant Melodies of Springtime and Love (one hour program); announcement

12 Feb 2017: Seminar at United International College, Zhuhai
Topic: Historically Informed Performance of Early Music for the Guqin Silk-String Zither
    10am-12 noon, Guqin in its historical and cultural context
    2 pm-3.45 pm, Introduction to melodies and their structures
    4 pm-5.00 pm, Performance: Early guqin music played from original sources

28-29 May 2016: Lectures and performance in Guangzhou
29 May 7.30 PM (Sunday): solos to open an "elegant gathering" at Liwan Lake Park (
荔灣湖公園; image)
28 May: Nanshan and Dali Libraries (南山圖書館/大瀝圖書館): translated talks on Historically Informed Qin performance

1 May 2016: 春曲傳情 (Expanded version of the 12 February program)
2 PM; solo program at the Taipei Qin Hall (臺北琴道館 / FB), Taiwan
Silk-string guqin music to celebrate the Lanting Pavilion Gathering (video excerpt: Section 2)

12 February 2016: Elegant Chinese Melodies of Spring and Love
1 PM (free); solo program at
Chatham Square Library, New York
Silk-string guqin music to celebrate Valentine’s Day / the Chinese New Year
(Program; complements New York Qin Society 13 February program [q.v.])

2-4 January 2016: Performances in the Chengdu China Guqin Festival (2016 成都中國古琴藝術薈)
2 Jan 10:00 東郊記憶演藝中心 Chengdu Eastern Memory Performance Center
3 Jan 19:30 青羊區教育學院     Qingyang District College of Education

22 December 2015 (Tuesday 7.00 pm): Guqin artist John Thompson: meeting and performance in Sài Gòn
Salon Văn hóa Cà phê thứ Bảy, 19B Phạm Ngọc Thạch, Q.3 Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Guqin solo interspersed with Vietnamese music (Nguyễn Tiến Đạt: xiao end blown flute; Nguyễn Tiến Đạt: di end-blown flute; Võ Minh Trung: đàn tỳ bà (pipa)

6 August 2015 (Thursday 7.00-8.30 pm): Returning to the Sources (Poster; Video)
Chinese Cultural Studies Center, 304 Lyndhurst Building, 29 Lindhurst Terrace, Hong Kong
承真樓,擺花街; features the earliest known versions of today's standard guqin melodies

22 July 2015 (Wednesday 7.30 pm): Memorial Concert in honor of National Treasure 孫毓芹 Sun Yü-Ch'in
台北市中正紀念堂演藝廳 Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
With other former students commemorating the 25th year of his passing (part of a series: 中文);
18 July 2015 (Saturday, 2.30 PM): Returning to the Sources; my associated event at 琴園藝文空間,
playing the earliest versions of melodies taught by Sun Yü-Ch'in and discussing the reconstruction process

19 May 2015 (Tuesday 6.30-8.30 pm): Bridge of Poetry: The Ballad of the Han
China Institute, 125 East 65th St., New York, NY (details)
Guqin music complementing a lecture by 汪班 Ben Wang on Han dynasty Yue Fu poetry (handout)

9, 16, 23, 30 April 2015 (Thursdays, 3.25-4.25 pm): Guqin Music Appreciation
culture course presented by the Confucius Institute for students at Pace University

5 July, 2 August and 6 September 2014 (Saturdays, 7:30pm) (tickets via Urbtix)
            Great Ming Silk-string Zither Music (大明絲絃琴樂)
Three solo recitals with concluding discussions; Hong Kong City Hall Recital Hall
A Cultural Presentation featuring, in order, music played from early, middle and late Ming dynasty handbooks.

7-9 February 2014; Estonia: Chinese and Western Early Music
Performances for Chinese New Year with
FA Schola
  7 February: Assembly Hall, Tartu University Main Building, Tartu
  8 February: Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn
  9 February: Rakvere Pangahoone

1 Feb 2014 (Saturday), 2 PM; Guqin solo; 3.30 Segment of Performing Arts Showcase (.pdf)
Interactive workshop and solo performance as part of of the Yale Lunarfest (New Year celebration)

27 April 2013 (Friday), 7 PM; Reviving Traditional Chinese Music
Interview on Culture Matters,
International Channel Shanghai
The 1 hour program is now archived here

24 February 2013 (Sunday), 7 PM; Shanghai Childrens Library
Silk Zither Dreams (poster)
962 Nanjing West Road (南京西路962號 [近茂名北路 near Maoming Rd])
Presented by You Huang Gu Yun (幽篁古韵; tel: 021-64374111)

29 September 2012, 2 PM; The Esplanade, Singapore: Introduction to Guqin
A "Bitesize" narrated performance focusing on melodies with an autumn theme

Taiwan performances August-September 2011
2011年9月30-十月1日;臺灣台中朝陽科技大學﹕ 2011『古琴、音樂美學與人文精神』國際學術研討會
30 August-1 September 2011; 2011 Interdisciplinary, Intercultural International Conference on Guqin, Aesthetics and Humanism
Chaoyang University of Technology, Taichung, Taiwan (Present paper and perform)
1 - 2 September 2011
古琴回家-西方琴人會台灣 Guqin returns home; Westerners perform in Taiwan
Performances in Taipei and Taichung as part of the opening of a guqin center in Taipei, by the 中華古琴學會 Chinese Guqin Association

8-10 December 2010; Hong Kong: participation in guqin conference
2nd Interdisciplinary, Intercultural International Conference on Guqin, Aesthetics and Humanism

24 - 26 November 2010; Basel, Switzerland: Music from the Time of Marco Polo (中文)
Further performances with FA Schola
Wednesday, Nov. 24, 20.00; Terrassensaal, Goetheanum; (2010 CHIME Conference opening)
Friday, Nov 26, 20.30; H95, Kulturraum Concert Hall, Horburgstrasse 95, Basel.

19 November 2010, Hangzhou, China: solo performance (with others)
19.30; Zhejiang Concert Hall (浙江音樂廳), Hangzhou
鳳凰和鳴 Fenghuang He Ming, a program featuring two Tang dynasty qins from
Yang Shibai in the collection of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum
  (來凰 Lai Huang [further] and 彩鳳鳴岐 Cai Feng Ming Qi, both with silk strings; I played Lai Huang: see end of documentary)

20 February 2010, Mumbai, India: Chinese New Year Celebration (Flyer)
Spring Melodies (guqin solo); follows:
Through Sacred China to Xanadu, an illustrated exploration by Ravi Bhoothalingam
Jnanapravaha, Queens Mansion, G. Talwatkar Marg, Fort

3 to 13 September 2009, Beijing and Ningxia: further performances on the Marco Polo theme (中文)
Performances with Fa Schola and early percussionist Janno Mäe as part of the "首屆亞歐文化藝術節
First ASEM Culture and Arts Festival" 2009 (further details)

2009年7月16日 - 8月6日;琴韻-古琴與中國文化之旅
16 July - 6 August 2009: Teach and perform in China as part of
Way of the Qin 2009

2009年4月24-25日;臺灣台中朝陽科技大學﹕ 2009『古琴、音樂美學與人文精神』國際學術研討會
24-25 May 2009; 2009 Interdisciplinary, Intercultural International Conference on Guqin, Aesthetics and Humanism (
Chaoyang University of Technology, Taichung, Taiwan
  Present paper and perform

2008年5月23日;青島,千禧茗茶﹕ 古琴茗會·慈善雅集—為地震災區的同胞新福慈善雅集
23 May 2008; Qingdao, Qianxi Mingcha Teahouse : Solo performance to benefit earthquake victims

2008年5月11至17日;北京/杭州﹕馬可•波羅時代音樂(與FA Schola
13 - 19 May 2008;     Beijing/Hangzhou :  Music from the Time of Marco Polo (with FA Schola)

五月十三日 May 13 19:30 中央音樂學院 Recital Hall, Central Conservatory of Music
五月十五日 May 15 19:30 北京大學南配殿 South Flank Hall, Peking University Library Building
五月十七日 May 17 16:00 國家大劇院 National Center for Performing Arts
五月十九日 May 19 19:30 杭州大劇院 Hangzhou Grand Theatre
        (Hangzhou performances cancelled due to mourning period May 19-21 for earthquake victims)

February 2008; Estonia: Music from the Time of Marco Polo, with FA Schola
          (Festivitas Artium events)

Thursday, 7 February 7 P.M. Tartu University Teacher Training College Hall
Friday,     8 February 7 P.M. Tallinn University Ceremonial Hall

December 2007; USA: Music from the Time of Marco Polo (馬可波羅時代的音樂), with FA Schola

Saturday 8 December 3.30 PM, St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia University, NYC (map)
Monday, 10 December 7.00 PM, Christ Congregation, Princeton, NJ (map)
Wednesday 12 December 7.30 PM, Hilles, Haverford College, PA (campus map)

17 November 2007; Suzhou, China: Performance as a visiting qin master
  Part of the 怡園琴會 Yiyuan Qin Society's commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of
Wu Zhaoji

16 September 2007; Hilton Hotel, Melville, NY: Awards Ceremony of the Sumi-e Society of America
  Qin melodies with themes found in Chinese brush painting

13 May 2007, 1 PM; Board of Inquiry Room, Ellis Island National Monument, Ellis Island, New York
  Ancient Chinese silk-string zither music; one of E.I.'s Pacific Asian-American Heritage Month events

22 February 2007, 7 PM, Weehawken Nutrition Center, 201 Highwood Ave., Weehawken, New Jersey
  Chinese New Year solo qin performance for the Weehawken Public Library on the Marco Polo theme

16 - 18 February 2007, Parnu, Tartu and Tallinn, Estonia
  Chinese New Year performances with Fa Schola on the theme
Music from the Time of Marco Polo

11 February 2007 (Sunday), Renee Weiler Concert Hall, Greenwich House Music School, New York City
  Lecture and performance on the Marco Polo theme at the annual meeting of the New York Qin Society
  (Event title : Reflections of Antiquity: Festival of Ancient Music from China: the Qin and the Konghou)

21 - 23 October 2006, Qionglai and Chengdu, Sichuan province
  Performances at the "Cultural Festival for the Guqin and Zhuo Wenjun" (
see details).

18 October 2006 (Thursday), Central Conservatory, Beijing
  Performance in connection with the
Beijing International Qin Music Week 2006,
  dedicated to the memory of Wu Jinglue (October 16th–19th)

4 December 2005 (Sunday), 8 PM, Beijing Normal University
  Performance organized by the Chinese Cultural Association of the university (see
commemorative poem)

6 November 2005 (Sunday), 2 PM, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA
  Solo event in conjunction with Masterworks of Chinese Painting, In Pursuit of Mists and Clouds

4-10 Oct 2005 Tartu Early Music Festival (in Tartu, Estonia):
  Music from the Time of Marco Polo, Evening Melodies for the Silk String Zither, plus other events

2 October 2005 Meeting of the London Youlan Qin Society, London, England
  Preview of the Tartu Early Music Festival programs

19 February 2005 Beijing. Solo performance at the Hua Bao Zhai Gallery
  Wang Peng played one melody, Wu Zhao played two

8 February 2005 (Tue) 7.00 PM, Solo l/d and performance at Casa Asia, Barcelona,
  in the Palace of the Baron of Quadras (with help from Amics del Guqin)

27 October 2004 (Wed) 8.00 PM. Solo performance at NSI, San Diego;
  Music from Ming Dynasty Handbooks; co-sponsored by the Center for World Music
24 October 2004 (Sun) 7.00 PM. Narrated performance at Dizzy's San Diego;
  Music for Meditation and Self-Cultivation; complements the above

12 October 2004 (Tue) 7 PM. Performance at The Kitchen, NYC
  Part of Necessary Translations, with David Hinton (four other poets also read their translations)

10 September 2004 Solo performance at the Honolulu Academy of Arts
  in conjunction with the exhibition
Fantastic Mountains (5 August - 3 October 2004)

3 September 2004 8.00 P.M.; Solo performance, Clarion Music Center, San Francisco
  Fantastic Mountains (preview of the 10 September program)

14 August 2004 12.00 noon; Solo performance at the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden, Staten Island
  Fantastic Mountains (preview of the 10 September program)

17 July 2004 1.30 PM; Potomoc Community Center, Potomoc, Maryland: A performance organized by the Washington Chinese Literary Society, with three other members of the New York Qin Society

15 April 2004 Solo performance at Rutgers University
  for combined classes in Chinese Thought and Chinese Literature

12 April 2004 Solo performance at SUNY, New Paltz
  Joint presentation: Asian Studies Program plus School of Fine and Performing Arts

3 April 2004 Performance at the Terrapin Art Gallery, Chelsea;
  organized by the Academy of Muse

13 March 2004 Performance with Chinese poetry reading by translator David Hinton,
  at the Dactyl Foundation, 64 Grand Street, Manhattan.

12 February 2004 Beijing. Solo performance at the Hua Bao Zhai Gallery
  (reported on China TV's Meiri Wenhua Guobao).

7 February 2004 Hong Kong City Hall Theatre; a performance organized by ROI Productions; the other performers were qin players Wu Wenguang from Beijing, Tse Chun-yan from Hong Kong, and Hida Tatsushi from Japan, plus the komungo six string zither player Cheong Dae-seog from Korea. (Originally scheduled for April 2003 but postponed due to the SARS epidemic; see poster [174 KB])

7 Nov 2003 NY Metropolitan Art Museum, with Yuan Jung-Ping; the Trefoil Ensemble played early Western music;
  for the qin program I used a Lu Wang qin (details) in the Met collection; part of the 9th Conference of RCMI (Research Center on Music Iconography)
Also at the Met: the Audio Guide for Dreams of Yellow Mountain included part of a track from my Shen Qi Mi Pu CD set.

25-28 Sep 2003 Tartu Early Music Festival (in Tartu, Estonia):
Historically Informed Performance

26-31 August 2003 Private performances in Beijing

26 July 2003 (Saturday, 3-5 pm); Chinese Scholar's Garden, Staten Island Botanical Garden
solo qin performances by members of the New York Qin Society

12/13 July 2003 (Saturday 8pm; Sunday 7 pm); Colony Arts Center in Woodstock, NY: Music from the Time of Marco Polo; accompanied China photographs by Howard Finkelson (see next; no dance).

28/29 June 2003 (Saturday 7.30pm; Sunday 2.30pm); Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli, New York:
Silk Stone Moving : A dance-theater collaboration of East-West fusion combining projected photo-abstracts
by Howard Finkelson, my qin music, and dance by Michael Mao Dance. (Silk Stone Moving has review, articles, etc.)

22 June 2003 (Sunday, 3-4 pm); Chinese Scholar's Garden, Staten Island Botanical Garden
solo qin performance with discussion; followed the Curator's Tour of the garden by Judy Whitbeck.

16 May 2003 Recital at the Harvard-Yenching Institute

27 March 2003 (9-11 PM); meeting of the Early Medieval China Group at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Hilton Hotel, New York. Melodies with connections to the Six Dynasties period (further detail); with Yuan Jung-Ping


Some performances with other qin players, or of personal significance, include:

23 November 2002 at the China Institute, New York, I took part in the New York Qin Society Second Annual Conference. I played Dunshi Cao, Xing Tan, Feng Qiu Huang and the sung version of Jiu Kuang.

7 October 2002, at Swarthmore College, with Wu Zhao, a recital and a presentation at a class on Chinese civilization.

7 September 2002, at the City Hall Theatre in Hong Kong, the Qin Recital of the Three Styles. My style was "reconstructed melodies using silk strings"; the other players were Tong Kin-woon (his personal style) and Jiang Kangsheng (a student in the 1950s of Pu Xuezhai and other famous qin masters).

1 June 2002, during my alumni weekend at Haverford College, I gave a small recital.

28 April 2002, on alumni weekend at the Asheville School, my old prep school, I gave the Founder's Day performance. Here is a letter to the students.

27 February 2001, City Hall Recital Hall, Hong Kong Qin Recital by Tong and John Thompson

26-30 November 1992, 北京,中國文聯會堂, Hall of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles
Shen Qi Mi Pu Academic Seminar, Beijing, marking completion of the reconstruction of all its melodies by John Thompson

Return to my publications or to the Guqin ToC

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Performance Venues
The ideal place to listen to guqin is in the quiet of someone's home, surrounding by appropriate objects; everything else is a compromise. In this regard there is often a tendency to place a guqin performance in what seems like an appropriate visual location; unfortunately the noise in such places often requires listeners to close their ears and try to imagine the actual sound of the music. With guqin it is much better to close the eyes and open the ears rather than vice versa. It should also be emphasized that if the aim is to re-create the sound appreciated by the literati who gave birth to and nurtured the tradition, then there is no alternative to using silk strings.

For guqin one might also add that the most authentic situation would be to have attendees participate by playing themselves, doing calligraphy, painting, or engaging in another such activity (see "Four Arts" and "18 Scholars"). Here one might use multi-media methods to re-create such an environment.

For conventional public guqin performance, two aspects of presentation require particular attention.

  1. Performance environment
    The ideal performance environment is one with such superb acoustics that no amplification is necessary. Here traditional environments for early music, such as churches, often do not work for quiet instruments such as guqin. And as with the gardens or courtyards sometimes favored for guqin performance, acoustics and exterior noise often make appreciation of the actual music difficult. Unfortunately, there seems to be no listing available of small performance halls with excellent acoustics. The best one in which I have
    performed so far is the auditorium at NSI, San Diego. It seats 300 people, but I found that no amplification was necessary: the sound in the back seats was the same as that in front.

  2. Amplification
    Although the ideal performance space is one that does not require amplification, for most conventional performance spaces the unique colors of the silk string instrument, as well as the desired feeling of intimacy, can only be re-created with the help of high quality electronic amplification, applied knowledgeably. This is especially true if other instruments or voices are added, as these would almost certainly be considerably louder than an un-amplified qin.

    The essential beauty of the traditional guqin (i.e., one with silk strings) lies in the rich but delicate overtones produced by plucking or hitting the strings (the nylon metal strings so introduced during and commonly used since the Cultural Revolution have their own advantages, particularly in performances, but they do not have this subtle coloring, hence they lead to different styles of play). To capture this the most essential elements are microphones with low internal noise and a large frequency range, and a high quality microphone pre-amp. Under General and Technical Details of my Qin Recordings I discuss issues involved in recording qin. For amplification the issues are much the same except that close miking is probably required. However, a major problem in amplifying qin in this way is often an over-emphasis on the sound of the fingers sliding on the strings. Avoiding this requires considerable skill on the part of the technicians, as well as the right equipment.

    Two other amplification alternatives might be considered, contact microphones and piezo electric pickups. These alternatives are particularly important if the qin is to be played together with another instrument.

    1. For contact microphones in my experience the sound has never been good: the true sound of the qin never never comes through and even inside the guqin the contact microphone still may be picking up too much sound from the other instrument(s).

    2. Piezo pickups completely cut out sound from nearby instruments, but their clean sound leave little of the original guqin sound color.

The above comments concern mainly silk string guqin performed solo. With the modern nylon metal string qin the sound no longer has the traditional qin color, so amplification does not have to take this into consideration. And when played with other instruments the colors of even the silk string guqin tend to be hidden (though at least in recording this example may suggest otherwise). In such cases I am intrigued by the possibility of hooking up a guqin amflified with a piezo pickup to some sort of sound processor. As yet I have no experience with this, but guqin offers intriguing possibilities with such a setup, either alone or in combination with other instruments.

2. My first performance (another image; House Program)
There was a related article in the South China Morning Post dated 18 April 1978.

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