Photo of Yadong Guan

Yadong Guan

Performance Instructor: Pipa

Discover the pipa, discover Yadong Guan: a mesmerizing musical encounter with one of China’s hidden treasures

Hailing from Beijing, Yadong Guan is a true musical ambassador who brilliantly masters the pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument that is over 2,000 years old. Handling the metal and nylon-stringed instrument with impressive virtuosity, Guan uncovers one of her country’s hidden treasures, offering audiences a truly exotic experience. Those who have been privileged to watch her perform have been enraptured by her profound artistic sensitivity and by the sounds of the pipa, which range from delicate and gentle to brisk and powerful.

Since her arrival in Canada in 1997 (she now resides in Ottawa), the pipa virtuoso, who studied under master Lin Shi Cheng for seven years, has been sparking much curiosity and admiration, whether she presents herself in solo recitals, as a soloist with orchestras (performing works such as Little Sisters of the Grassland, a piece composed for pipa and orchestra) or with various small ensembles. In addition to giving concerts dedicated to traditional Chinese music, Yadong Guan has adapted a wide variety of Western music to her instrument, from classical works (Bartók, Debussy, Vivaldi) to selections from the Quebec song repertoire (Gilles Vigneault, Claude Léveillée).

A gifted composer, Yadong Guan also explores the many technical subtleties of her instrument through her own works. Moreover, the elegant virtuoso has toured Canada on several occasions (with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts), and her brilliant playing is immortalized on two recordings. What’s more, her exceptional contribution to the development of Chinese culture has won her several prestigious accolades, including a ministerial prize, awarded at the UN World Women’s Conference in 1995. Yadong Guan received the award of “The Best Original Score “for the music of movie at the Moncton Film Festival in 2010, an “Outstanding Artist 2010” given by Toronto Fairchild TV and Talentvision TV.

In 2017, her composition <Grandma> has won her Gold award from Chinese children’s song writing competitions held in Beijing. She is also the head of Chinese Canadian Children’s Choir of Canada (C5), the first children’s choir in Ottawa Chinese community that focus on promoting multiculturalism and carrying on experiments in singing with her east-meet-west musical bands.

Educational credentials:

  • 1998.09 – 2002.05: Master in musical composition. M.Mus. Music Department, Laval University, Quebec, Canada
  • 1992-09 – 1996-09: Bachelor in instrument performing. B.A. Central National University, Beijing, China

Professional achievement:

  • 2017 –Composed “Grandma” and won the first place Gold Award in China Children’s Song Writers Competition held by Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
  • 2016 –Nominated as “Outstanding Oversea Chinese Artist” by the China Oversea Chinese Affairs Bureau and was invited to Silk Road Culture Discovery Tour in China.
  • 2015 –Pipa and Guitar duet has been selected as finalist in the “China Spring Gala Competition 2015” and was invited to perform in the broadcasting in China Central Television, live broadcasted to tens of millions audiences.
  • 2015 –Invention of the Electric Guitar has patented in China nationwide.
  • 2014 –“Yadong Trio” music group was invited by the Grand Theater of Gansu Province, Grand Theater of Hangzhou City to tour China from the south to the north.
  • 2013 -–“Yadong Trio” music group was invited by the China Ministry of Culture to participate “The 13th Meet in Beijing International Art Festival”, the largest international art & musical festival in spring in Asia.
  • 2010 –“Yadong Trio” music group was selected as delegate to represent Canada to participate “The 12th Shanghai International Art Festival”, the largest international art & musical festival in China.
  • 2010 -The “Best Original Score” Award from Moncton Film Festival, Canada.
  • 2010 –Outstanding Artist 2010 Award from the Fair Child TV Network, Toronto, Canada.
  • 1996 – Second place winner in the Musical Instruments category, Nationwide Conservatories and Art Schools Graduates Contest held in Beijing, China.
  • 1995 – “Most Talented Show Award” in the UN’s World Women’s Congress 1995 held in Beijing, China.
  • 1995 – Second place winner in National Composition Contest held in Beijing. The piece in the contest was “The shadow”.
  • 1993 –Host in educational TV program and video series of Learning Pipa from CCTV (China Central Television). This program is produced for oversea Chinese art students who are at conservatory or university for their post-secondary studies, and was popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Published albums:

  • 2010 – Album “Mosaîka: ver l’orient”, produced by Canada Council for the Arts, Via Musique, Musée de la civilization de Québec, etc.
  • 2007 – “Yadong Trio”, video produced by Canal Bravo!, Montreal, Canada
  • 2005 – Album “Fréquence Pékinoise” (Pipa, Guitar, Cello, Violin) recorded and distributed by XXI-21 production Inc. Montreal, Canada
  • 1998 – Recorded album “Classic Pipa selection” with China Central Broadcasting Orchestra, Beijing, China. Produced by Magra Multimedia, Montreal, Canada.

Teaching and work experience:

  • 2017.04 – Present: Chinese Canadian Children’s Choir of Canada (C5). Ottawa, Canada Founder, Artistic Director
    • Teaching music and promote multiculturalism, composing original scores for the choir and leading the choir to attend International music events and festivals.
  • 2016 – Present, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada Performance Instructor: Pipa
  • 2002 – 2013 Agency Danielle Lefebvre. Trois-Rivières, Canada Professional musician
    • Music tours, workshops, master classes in schools and communities in Canada from coast to coast and internationally.
  • 2005.01 – 2006.12: Arts Ottawa East, Ottawa, Canada Director of membership
    • Expanding the membership base of Arts Ottawa East and working with the community, including universities and conservatories, about its programs, resources and services.
  • 2002.11 – 2004.11: Viamusique, Quebec, Canada Musician, musical educator
    • Touring concerts and conferences; presenting atelier-workshop-concert; participating interviews in media; Realizing musical research and histories for projects of concert-conference in different school boards and areas in Quebec region.
  • 1999.10 – 2002.10: P.E.T.E International (Canada) Inc. Ottawa, Canada Artistic Director
    • Establishing music groups which work on East meet West style, organizing art activities in the community locally and internationally, especially with China.
  • 1995.04 – 1997.04: MARK 4 AUDIO (HONG KONG) LTD. Beijing, China Artistic representative
    • Touring Chinese universities and conservatories to give class presentation and conferences on acoustic education, audio, video systems.
  • 1996.04 – 1997.04: China Central Television (CCTV), Beijing, China Music adviser
    • Editing broadcasting music programs, promoting multicultural/world music fusion towards youth and art students in universities, organizing concert and music shows on CCTV.
  • 1993 –1994 Host in educational TV program and video series of Learning Pipa from CCTV (China Central Television). This program is produced for oversea Chinese art students who are at conservatory or university for their post-secondary studies, and was popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong.



«She was a knockout! The best act of all the season! Inspiring! » Laurie Peaker said (Vernon, BC, December 2009)

More sensitive than a harp, more twang than a guitar and at least as soothing as a cello, I had never heard the pipa before in my life. If I had, I would have taken it up. It’s beautiful. […] Guan skillfully altered timbre, pitch, volume and tone simultaneously. Touch and texture seemed to change the mood on a dime.[…] It’s hard to get bored with a pipa. It’s a global instrument.[…] Beautiful transitions with a deep quality of listening were created by these refined artists. Such a simple melody and so beautifully played.[…] I was amazed by the variety and quantity of skills needed in mastering expression of the pipa. It’s a life’s work, and only 2,000 years young. By Lisa Talesnick – Vernon Morning Star – December 2009

«One of the more exotic evenings recently featured the distinguished Pipa virtuoso and composer, Yadong Guan, originally from Beijing. The Pipa, a four-stringed traditional Chinese instrument is one of the oldest instruments still in use and this award winning player has done much to explore the occidental repertoire that can be played on this instrument. This gifted and elegant player was accompanied by two renowned musicians in their own right – David Jacques on guitar and Christophe Lobel on cello in a wonderful fusion of music from East and West. The performance, which featured several classical Chinese pieces as well as some by Western classical composers, such as Bartok and Claude Gagnon, received a well-deserved standing ovation from the appreciative audience. It is a rare and delightful experience, to have the opportunity to attend such a performance and the beauty of the musical pieces was matched by the elegance and delicacy of the performer in a gorgeous Chinese dress. » Steven and Ellie Kennard, Evergreen Theatre, Nova-Scotia, April 4th 2009

«The Orillia Concert Association presented Yadong Guan, pipa, accompanied by Peter Rapson, cello and Gerry Elliott, guitar on Saturday, March 21st 2009. It proved to be an extraordinary musical event.Few, if any of our subscribers had ever heard of this ancient Chinese instrument called the pipa. Therefore it was a leap of faith for the 550 + people who came to the Orillia Opera House not knowing what they were going to experience. […] I witnessed the amazing effect that she had on her audience then and to my relief but not surprise she did not disappoint the audience in Orillia. […] When she sang and played a lovely Chinese folk song, “The moon expresses my heart” many people were moved to tears. I have never witnessed this in a concert before. The use of guitar and cello to accompany the pipa was an excellent addition and brought some valuable contrast to the overall sound. All three instruments have their own unique sound and these complimented each other perfectly.

The program was not flashy as so many of our programs tend to be now. Rather it was sublimely satisfying from a musical point of view and for this reason I have had far more positive feedback than I can remember for any other concert that we have presented. They positively loved it! »  Stan Passfield, Orillia Concert Association – Ontario, March 21st 2009

« The Trio Yadong features Yadong Guan on pipa, a young Asian woman of astonishing virtuosity; «Claude Gagnon has managed to expand on an already superb work by Manuel de Falla, ‘La danse du meunier’, with the inspired participation of the pipa and the ardour of the cello played by Carla Antoun » Luc Proulx, Nord Info, Sainte-Thérèse de Blainville 2005

On the ‘Fréquence pékinoise’ album: « An album loaded with originality and personality…worth discovering » Michel Phaneuf, ‘Le Canada-Français’ 2005

« The she-devil with the black mane and slanting eyes plucks exquisite ‘portamenti’ and ‘vibrati’ from her lute that burst out into the air like firework » Guy Fournier, ‘LA MARQUE’ magazine, published by the Orchestre symphonique de Québec 2005

To read more:


photo image playing pipaABOUT PIPA

Mentioned in Chinese passages which date back to over more than 2000 years, the pipa is one of the most ancient instruments still played in present times. During the Tang dynasty, between 618 to 907A.D., pipa became the most appreciated instrument in China. Since then, its popularity has never decreased over the centuries, while its repertoire and technique have been transmitted and developed from generation to generation.

Stringed with four metal strings, the modern pipa benefits from a range of more than three octaves due to its thirty frets, which are placed up to the center of it resonance chamber. Except when using five fingers on which artificial nails are placed for each performance, pipa shares some play techniques with classic guitar such as tremolo and arpeggios while its pear shape recalls the European lute.

Many years of training and practice are essential for the artist who wants to make the most of all the expressive resources this instrument offers. This is so because of its imposed technical requirements as well as the multiple subtleties that interpreting its repertoire represent.