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First Lady of China visits Royal College of Music

Thursday 22 October 2015


The Royal College of Music opened its doors to the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China, Madame Peng Liyuan.

The First Lady, a renowned singer of Chinese folk music, spent time talking to RCM students, who had a rare opportunity to perform for her. Among those who took to the stage were several award winners, including soprano Gemma Lois Summerfield (Kathleen Ferrier Award 2015) and pianist Martin James Bartlett (BBC Young Musician 2014). They were joined by notable alumni, including Chinese soprano He Wu, now at the National Opera Studio, and esteemed accompanist Ian Tindale, who also took home prizes at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards earlier this year.

Madame Peng meets Martin James Bartlett 

The event was particularly memorable for the RCM’s community of Chinese students. In the run-up to Madame Peng’s visit, first year pianist Jun Lin Wu said he was “very excited and a little bit nervous about performing on such an important occasion”. Jun Lin is already winning first prizes in major competitions across the world. “I’ve been in London for nearly two months and I enjoy the lifestyle here. I’m really lucky to be a student at the RCM and I hope to study different kinds of culture and music here”.

The RCM has developed partnerships with conservatoires across China and a strong connection with world-famous pianist, Lang Lang, who received an Honorary Doctorate in 2011. In addition, Professor Vanessa Latarche, Head of Keyboard at the RCM, is Vice Chairman of Lang Lang Music World – his school for gifted pianists in Shenzhen.

Madame Peng and RCM Librarian, Peter Linnitt examine the original manuscript of Mozart's Piano Concerto in C Minor, K491

Before departing, the First Lady was presented with a facsimile of the original manuscript of Mozart’s highly influential Piano Concerto in C Minor, K 491, housed at the RCM for over a century. Madame Peng was also given a copy of Director’s Choice – an 80-page book detailing impressive items from the RCM’s special collections, including renowned portraiture, rare manuscripts and fine examples of historical instruments. In return, the First Lady presented the College with a Sheng – a traditional Chinese wind instrument.

RCM Director Colin Lawson, RCM Chairman Professor Lord Winston and First Lady Madame Peng Liyuan with the gifted Sheng

A gallery containing more images can be viewed .

Photographs: Chris Christodoulou