Lauded as a “paradise on earth,” Hangzhou is known for its stunning natural landscapes and historic silk and tea culture. This city in east China’s Zhejiang Province now stands as the country’s focal point for e-commerce business. Meanwhile, Seattle, the largest city in the state of Washington, gave rise to the world’s first Starbucks and such tech giants as Microsoft and Amazon. It earned the nicknameof the “Emerald City” for its lush greenery.
In Tian’s eyes, Seattle and Hangzhou share many similarities. She notes, “Hangzhou is a city at the vanguard of culture, technology and the internet sector. Habitable and endowed with a superb ecology, the cities of Seattle and Hangzhou are notable hubs of enterprise and initiative.”
After an in-depth exploration of Hangzhou, Tian Jiaxin decides to adapt the melody from Yue Opera classic “The Butterfly Lovers” as the main theme, incorporating segments of “Xiyang Xiaogu” (Music at Sunset). As a pianist, Tian constantly experiments with reproducing the sounds of various traditional Chinese instruments on the piano. The accelerating rhythm in the latter part of the piece showcases the fast-paced advancements in technology and the rapid development of Hangzhou.
To find the music and sounds that best embody the spirit of Seattle, Li Yuqi visits the Pike Place Market located in the city’s downtown. To Li, this farmers’ market provides her with endless inspiration. She remarks, “It gives you a lot of possibilities to explore Seattle’s culture and vibe, through food, drinks, music, local business and people.”
“The music that can best represent the city of Seattle is the type of music that can create big musical contrasts, but still keep a good balance,” Li adds. She adapts Beethoven’s “Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major” as the theme of the city to illustrate Seattle’s diversity.
When Hangzhou meets Seattle… pianist Tian Jiaxin and violinist Li Yuqi embark on a musical journey across the Pacific. Enjoy the urban tunes presented to us by these talented musicians.
Tunes from Two Cities