PhillyFolk Artists

Zhenguo Liu

Chinese Beijing Opera Musician

Zhenguo Liu is a musician, master of the jinghu, a two-stringed fiddle used as the lead melodic instrument in Chinese Beijing opera. Mr. Liu started his training in jinghu at the age of eight and was admitted to the prestigious “China College of Theaters.” After graduation, he was retained by the college as a faculty member. He became the youngest jinghu teacher in the school’s history. At the age of 23, he was selected as the jinghu player for Ma Changli, a distinguished master of Beijing opera and a specialist in old male roles emphasizing vocal quality.

Mr. Liu has over 20 years of professional performing and teaching experience, and has received much recognition and many awards for his virtuosity, including the “Hope Cup” award for traditional instrument performance, awarded in 1994 by the Beijing Traditional Music Instruments Association, and the first prize in Traditional Instrument Performance from the China Musicians Association. Mr. Liu has been a resident of the US for about five years now. He has taught and performed extensively in the East Coast, particularly in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, where he has made a significant contribution to community life both through his teaching of aspiring jinghu musicians, and through his work with the Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society (PCOS).

He says, “My art is my life. As other traditional artists, I have been struggling to make a living. The lack of great financial reward is always compensated by warm reception I get everywhere I go. So long as I play jinghu, I immediately strike accord with people who are either enjoying the music or are willing to sing with me.” In his work with PCOS, he has received the support of grants from the PA Council on the Arts.