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Portrait: Fiona Sze-Lorrain

“My origins and upbringing are a hybrid of East and West…”


Two fundamental forces define my concert performances: cultural experiences and an inner listening.

As a zheng soloist, I explore all traditions of the classical and contemporary repertoire: from ancient Han tunes, lyrical Qing melodies to modern works of the 50s-80s. Trained in classical piano, I discover the avant-garde zheng, a new genre that explores atonality and the contents of sounds. Music becomes more than a classical emphasis on harmony, style and form. I am most interested in the purity and expressiveness of a tone, and how each tone, in its different shades, communicates.

Photo: Fiona Sze, age 11, performing on the zheng
Performing at the age of 11

In his Poétique musicale (1952), Stravinsky wrote, “True tradition is not the documentation of a closed past; it is a living force which stimulates and teaches the present.” My origins and upbringing are a hybrid of East and West, past and present. I seek not to instill a mixture of both values, but to demarcate gaps and distance. I play a traditional Zhejiang tune on my zheng, but punctuate it with Bach's counterpoint. Playing the piano and zheng are merely different in terms of technicality and culture. They otherwise co-exist to render possible a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary artistic journey.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Sept 28, 2006 - Paris

Read her biography | en français