When Hanny meets a Peking Opera Singer from China

In The Netherlands with the performance “Better Life, Dream Come True”

This blog is a free English translation of the article that appeared in the Jilin Daily News Press on the 13th of April 2019.

Color training news 04-13 14:14

If we meet again, I am sure I will remember you. Because I just met you, leaving a footprint is beautiful…”

Hanny van Lankeren (left) and Li Yugang (right) singing together in a improvisation

At 10:00 pm local time on April 11th in Wageningen, at the “Tour Exhibition of Poverty Alleviation in China”, Li Yugang, a young Chinese artist from the North Eastern Province Jilin, made a perfect ending to his performance tour through Europe singing a pop song called “I Just Met You”.

He waved his hand to the enthusiastic audience and then rushed backstage in a hurry.

Although the performances of the Jilin Culture &Tourism week are over now, Li Yugang’s story of “I just met you” in the Netherlands has only just begun.

Wang Shuhang, founder of the Dutch SweetPotato Independent Folk Orchestra was invited as an agent and interpreter to assist in the happening. This very night, Yugang Li was supposed to meet with a very special guest, the Dutch classically trained soprano, voice scientist and vocal coach, Hanny van Lankeren.

It turns out that Hanny has been promoting the female tenor voice in recent years, and already made some substantial achievements during her own training as a classical tenor. Li Yugang, being a male actor in the Peking Opera, has developed a soprano voice in his falsetto register. When Wang Shuhang invited Hanny to watch the performance, she introduced ‘’Han Yu (a classic poet from the Chinese literature) and his performance style to Hanny. Although not familiar with Chinese traditional vocal music, Hanny has shown a great interest in this style of singing.

When Hanny watched Li Yugang on stage, dressed up as a beautiful female lady in a scene from the Peking Opera, she felt deeply touched. “His appearance is so graceful in such a fine, almost humble way, showing a sincere respect to the audience as well as to art itself. This is a person who is full of friendship, innocence and love.” So far Hanny’s first impression of Li Yugang.

Music is a universal language that can connect people of different races and cultures from all over the world, The two artists talked intensively until very late after the show.

Being a singer and vocal coach, Hanny stated that the Western traditional division of voices in soprano, alto, tenor and bass, relies heavily on gender as the standard for voice classification. However, there are many men in real life who can sing high notes in their falsetto, and women with matured voices who can sing as low as tenors or even baritons. Hanny believes that the 4 parts in a mixed choir should not be determined by gender but should be open to any male, neutral or female singer, who is capable of doing the job. It is suggested to call this: Gender Free Singing.

Hanny also mentioned that it is her wish to build a choir of mixed voices. Although there are differences in voices, there will be no gender limitations.

From left to right: Wang Shuhang, Hanny van Lankeren and Li Yugang.

“This challenges the human voice!” Li Yugang’s eyes sparkled with curiosity and excitement. He admired Hanny’s thoughts. “It is a wonderful idea not to distinguish the voices by gender.”

“A beautiful jasmine flower, a beautiful jasmine flower, beautiful and full of fragrance, fragrance and …” Li Yugang sang in his falsetto soprano voice while Hanny was improvising a free melody in her low tenor voice.

The world-famous Chinese folk song “Jasmine”, in the spontaneous improvisation by the two singers combining Chinese and Western European traditions, had an exhilarating effect on the staff members that were present during the interview. Art seem to have no borders, culture has a friend’s voice, and the hands of the two artists were tightly held together.

Being an expert in the acoustics of the singing voice”, Hanny is very keen to conduct a sampling study of Li Yugang’s voice. “Unfortunately, your stay here is too short this time.” Hanny said with regret. Li Yugang smiled and told Hanny that he would soon launch his own large-scale poetic dance drama “Zhao Jun Out”. Li Yugang’s invitation was just about to be translated when Hanny said: “Whatever happens, I will come to China to see your performance.”

When the artists said good bye it felt like two old friends departing. No doubt “We’ll meet again” will take place in the future.

Author: Jilin Daily all media reporter Dan Wang / Photo: Yan Ding / Editor: Shuai Feng / English translation and re-editing: Hanny van Lankeren with help from Google.

Link to the original Chinese article