Chinese musicians set up shop

William Hu, left and his wife Tanya Li have established a business dedicated to Chinese musical instruments. Times photo Wayne Martin

By Marianne Kelly

Chinese musician William Yu has found his magical place surrounded by a plethora of traditional instruments in the new premises he and his wife Tanya Li have turned into a musical emporium in Pakuranga Road.

In fact, he says: I don’t want to go home some times because I enjoy the environment so much”.

The two professional musicians came to Auckland from China in 2004 and opened their first music shop on the corner of Market Road and Great South Road – joining local musical specialists Lewis Eady who operated their business across the road.

Mr Yu is an exponent of the yangquin, a Chinese hammered dulcimer and Ms Li, the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese lute.

They are high profile musicians, called upon by a variety of organisations from the APO (Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra) to the Wellington Jazz Music Festival in 2006.

They have made recordings contributing a special Chinese flavour, for example for the Murray McNabb Group’s Astral Surfers CD and as part of the New Fusion Orchestra which involves eight soloists dedicated to revitalising traditional Chinese folk music in a fusion of Eastern and Western forms.

Five-and-a-half years ago, they made their first home in Reeves Road, Pakuranga, and became enamoured with the area.

Three months ago they were delighted to find their current premises sandwiched between St Mark’s Catholic Church and St Kentigern College on the other side – plenty of scope to make happy music without disturbing neighbours. The business, WE Classical, is three-pronged.

The couple, along with four other specialist teachers, teach students a range of Chinese musical instruments and, Mr Yu says, they are hoping to attract more Kiwi European students as well as Chinese. Piano, violin and guitar lessons will be added to the list soon.

“We would like to do small concerts here at our studio with teachers and students, mixing up the Chinese instruments with piano,” he says.

As well as offering a full array of instruments for sale, Mr Yu is also a piano tuner.

“I am a person who takes great enjoyment being this close to the instruments here,” he says. “I can tune pianos, teach and practice my own music all from this base.

“It’s what I enjoy and it makes our lives very colourful.”