Text size: A A A Facebook Twitter Email to friends

"A Revival of Traditional Culture" Yau Ma Tei Theatre Series - "The Storytellers" Nanyin Concert

Venue Date Time Price
Theatre, Yau Ma Tei Theatre
$180, $120
order now

Seduction by Playing the Lute Under the Moon and Stealing the Poem at Night from The Story of the Jade Hairpin                                                Zheng, Percussion and Vocal: Tong Kin-woon

Consoling Ruilan in the Boudoir from Blessing of the Moon                 Vocal: Chen Liying
A Ghostly Tale                                                                                       Vocal: Liu Zhiguang
Min Ziqin Driving the Carriage                                                              Vocal: Chen Liying
Burning Funerary Goods for His Love                                                    Vocal: Liu Zhiguang

Nocturnal Lament                                                                                  Vocal: Tong Siu-yin
Li Qingzhao                                                                                           Vocal: Tong Siu-yin
Chen Lin Transporting Fruit and The Weird Wind That Blows Of His Hat from How a Dead Cat Was Substituted for a New-born Prince             Zheng, Percussion and Vocal: Tong Kin-woon
With Chinese surtitles and English synopsis


Seduction by Playing the Lute Under the Moon and Stealing the Poem at Night from The Story of the Jade Hairpin  

The Story of the Jade Hairpin tells of the affair between a young scholar, Pan Bizheng and a Taoist nun, Chen Miaochang. Pan chances to meet Chen at the Taoist nunnery run by his aunt. The two send messages of love under the moon by playing the lute.  Chen also describes in a poem how she has fallen for Pan.  When Pan manages to steal a look at it, he knows that Chen is not unmoved despite the fact that she has taken her vow.  The two consummate their love.  This piece of nanyin music is based on the version passed down by the blind nanyin artist, To Woon.


Consoling Ruilan in the Boudoir from Blessing of the Moon

Wang Ruilan, daughter of a senior court official, is separated from her mother in the deluge of fugitives after a military coup.  Fortunately she meets a scholar, Jiang Shilong, in the countryside. The two continue the rest of their journey by helping each other out, and finally they get married.  When Ruilan’s father, Minister Wang, finally finds her, he refuses to accept that their marriage is legitimate because there was no matchmaker.  He forces the two apart. After Ruilan has returned to her own home, she misses her husband so much that she cries all the time.  Her mother goes into her boudoir to console her.


A Ghostly Tale                                                 

Liu Junxian vows to avenge for Liao Xiaoqiao, the ghost of a courtesan who has been betrayed and cheated of everything but her unworthy lover. Liu comes to the Temple of the City God to “pay toll” for her so that she can go with him to find the man who now runs a prosperous business, a shop called Guang Chang Long.


Min Ziqin Driving the Carriage                                              

Min Ziqin’s mother died when he was small and his father remarried. One bitter cold winter, Mr. Min sees that Ziqin has no warm clothing, so he buys cotton wool and asks his wife to make a coat for him. But she uses it all to make padded coats for her two own sons, but fills a third with catkin to give to Ziqin. One day, Mr. Min and Ziqin are riding in a carriage to a neighbouring town. Ziqin cannot stand the cold, and his face is turning ashen grey. He would not tell his father the truth about his coat so as not to cause trouble and make waves in the family. His father slashes his coat, sees the catkin inside, and is so furious that he wants to divorce his wife immediately. Ziqin advises him against it, for the reason that" with a mother in the family, only one boy gets cold; but if there is not mother in the family, all three boys would have no one to take care of them." His father is moved by this, so is his stepmother, who decides to change for good. 


Burning Funerary Goods for His Love                                 

A man comes to the bank of the Pearl River in a small boat to offer funerary goods to a courtesan he once knew and who has hanged herself. In the song, he describes in detail what he has brought: three types of meat as sacrifices, and what she used to wear and use. In the ritual of offering, he recalls the old days and is overcome with grief.


Nocturnal Lament                                                      

Written by He Weiqun in the early 20th Century, the song describes how a woman spends a sleepless night missing her lover who has left her and now in a faraway place. She listens to the nightwatch from the first round, the second, up to the fifth when day breaks, counting the hour and sings of how she misses her love. The elegant lyrics and the lilting melody – such as “the fallen petals are lost souls buried in the mire”- can tuck at one’s heartstrings and bring tears to one’s eyes.

Li Qingzhao

Li Qingzhao (1084-1155) was a famous ci poetess of the Song Dynasty. Born into a literary family, she wrote many memorable ci poems, especially those that describe her deep-seated sadness that comes from various causes: the early passing of her husband, the loss of her family, the demise of the Song regime, and her lonely life towards the last years of her life. Some of the lyrics of this narrative nanyin tune are taken from famous verses that Li wrote.


Chen Lin Transporting Fruit and The Weird Wind That Blows Of His Hat from How a Dead Cat Was Substituted for a New-born Prince                                    

The story takes place during the Song Dynasty.  Empress Li has given birth to a son who would be the crown prince.  But the royal concubine Lady Liu frames her for giving birth to a monster by using a dead cat to replace the baby.  When Li suffers disgrace and is sent to live in a deserted part of the imperial palace grounds, Liu orders to set fire to it in a bid to shut her up forever.  Li manages to escape from the palace.  For eighteen years, she lives among the commoners, and becomes blind from constant weeping.  On the other hand, the baby prince has been saved by a palace maid, Kouzhu, and a eunuch, Chen Lin, puts in in a fruit box to take to The Eighth Prince who raises him.  Eighteen years later, the young prince ascends the throne as the foster son of Lady Liu.  The wise judge Bao happens to be on the way to investigating a case when his hat is blown off by a strange wind.  He follows the clue and finds Li, who tearfully relates to him all the wrongs that she has suffered.


Tong Kin-woon      

Tong Kin-woon is a renowned Chinese music scholar, with his specialism in the quqin, nanyin (Southern Tunes) and Cantonese music. He learned the regional genre of dishui nanyin from a blind artist in Hong Kong, To Woon, during the 1970’s. For the last 30 years, he is well known for accompanying himself on the zheng when he sings the nanyin songs, beating with his left hand and playing the instrument with his right. Tong has worked at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Michigan and HKAPA.


Tong Siu-yin

Tong Siu-yin is the only female blind artist in the vocal art form of nanyin. She is famous for singing lyrical tunes, but can also play percussion and the yangqin. She was presented with the Music Achievement Award at the 2007 International Music Festival for the Handicapped . A few years ago, she benefitted from the coaching of To Wing, a gaohu virtuoso, and began her foray into dishui nanyin, a sub-genre of ‘Southern Tunes’ performed by blind artists. She also received coaching from Au Kwan-cheung, another nanyin virtuoso well known in Hong Kong and Macao. Today, as the only female singer of dishui nanyin, she participated in the independent film, Autumnal Equinox.  


Chen Liying

Chen Liying was born into a family of nanyin artists famous for singing in the pingqiang voice. Her artistic career began more than fifty years ago, when she was only eleven. She was under the artistic influence of her grandfather, Chen Jian, and her father, Chen Damei. She began compiling works in the pingqiang nanyin repertoire in the 1960’s and dedicated herself to the study of its style and poignant tones. She also explored a vocalization method that would be somewhere between the falsetto zihou and natural pinghou by combining the two projection techniques and giving it appeal. Chen is known for her brilliant voice quality, easy delivery, clear enunciation and fine use of ligato in her singing. Her portrayal of characters and their emotions, delivered solely through the voice, shows exceptional insight. Such virtuosity is said to resemble her grandfather’s and has been widely acclaimed. 


Liu Zhiguang

Liu Zhiguang is a blind artist in Cantonese operatic music in Guangzhou. He became the disciple of a folk vocalist, Wen Lirong, early in his career, therefore is in the same stylistic school as the virtuoso in pinghou singing, Huang Shaomei. He was the leader and a principal of the Blind Ballad Artist Group of Yuexiu District, Guangzhou. Later, he worked together with another visually impaired artist, He Shirong. Liu was the winner of a Class One Award at the Guangzhou Folk Music and Song Art Competition.



Yehu : To Wing, Chan Pik-sum
Zheng : Dr. Tong Kin-woon, Chen Xiaohua, Lee King-chi
Pipa : Ho Kang-ming
Sanxian : Lam Chi Wang
Qinqin : Law Kai-ki
Xiao : Lo Wai-kwok, Chan Chi-chun

Pre-performance Talk

Differences on Dishui Nanyin and Cantonese Operatic Nanyin

16.12.2012 (Sun)   7:30pm

AC2, 4/F, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Speakers: Chen Liying, To Wing


Nanyin Music and Vocalisation

29.12.2012 (Sat)  7:30pm

AC1, 4/F, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Speakers: Dr. Tong Kin-woon, To Wing


In Cantonese

Free Admission. Limited seats on a first-come-first-served basis

Programme Length

Running Time: Approx. 2 hours with an intermission

Audiences are strongly advised to arrive punctually.

Latecomers will only be admitted until a suitable break in the programme.


Tickets available from 19 November onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Telephone Credit Card Booking

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis)

Group Booking Discount

10% off for each purchase of 4-9 standard tickets;

15% off for 10-19 standard tickets;

20% off for 20 or more standard tickets

A Revival of Traditional Culture” Yau Ma Tei Theatre Series Package Discount

10% off for each purchase of standard tickets for any 2 different performances;

15% off for any 3 different performances;

20% off for any 4 or more different performances

Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.

Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.


Programme Enquiries:2268 7325     

Ticketing Enquiries:2734 9009

Telephone Credit Card Booking:2111 5999       

Internet Booking:www.urbtix.hk

The presenter reserves the right to substitute artists and change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary
The contents of this programme do not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department


Subscribe our E-newsletter

Subscribe LCSD E-magazine

To enjoy the latest information of LCSD firsthand.

Join LCSD E-magazine subscription