Wang Zheng Ting spoke at the Chinese Museum on Sunday the 25th of September. Ting is a world-renowned composer and master performer of the ‘sheng’ (Chinese mouth organ), who has lectured, performed and shared his love of music across the world from Sichuan to Wuppertal to New York.

On Sunday, Ting spoke about his journey that took him from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to a Masters and then a PhD in Ethnomusicology undertaken at Monash University and at the University of Melbourne, respectively. As well as being a journey of deepening scholarly study, Ting spoke about his parallel path as a performer of the ‘sheng’. Ting expressed that he is, at heart, a performer who would play for audiences until his dying day – his work as a scholar, however, he believes to be an essential part of cultural sharing, exchange and productivity in Australia.

Ting spoke joyfully about many of his collaborations and concerts, through which he has stretched the traditional practice of sheng playing into forms of musical composition, performance practice and genre expressions unfamiliar to the instrument’s classical tradition. Ting emphasised his collaborations have been a process of understanding, learning and experimentation with both his collaborators as individuals and with the rich cultural traditions that make up Australia’s rich multifaceted society.

Attendees on Sunday listened to recordings of many of Ting’s engagingly experimental works with his and other traditional Chinese instruments, from soundscapes evoking Australian scenes to jazz improvisations. Two of Ting’s collaborators attended his talk and Ting opened the floor to these collaborators to speak about their projects together. Both of his past and continuing collaborators noted that Ting’s exceptional flexibility and openness to the possibilities of unique musical creation.

Ting is 5th speaker in the Artist’s Insights Series of talks, a part of the Chinese Museum’s The Arts Collective program. All are invited to register their interest for the final speakers of the year, Tony Ayres, Alice Pung and Sher Rill Ng.