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World-renowned Chinese pianist, Kong Xiang-Dong, recently performed in Silicon Valley, California, for a group of high powered CEOs and other honored guests. Kong took hold of the audience in a solo piano performance playing the orchestral piece and the solo piece of the “Yellow River Concerto”. It was musical paradise!

Kong grew up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution and he is now creating a musical revolution throughout the world. Imagine being on the “politically incorrect” list during Mao China and by the age of 17 putting China on the map for being the youngest prizewinner ever at the Moscow Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in 1986. Included in his concert performance were “Liebestraume No. 3”, by Liszt, “Nocturne” in C sharp minor, by Chopin, “The Yellow River Concerto”, by Yin Cheng-zong, Liu Zhuang, ChuWang-hua & Sheng Li-Hong, “Rhapsodie Espagnole”, by Liszt, and “June Bacarolle”, by Tchaikovsky. This was a musical “Haute Couture” experience filled with vastly contrasting styles and tempos. Literally “in the hands” of Mr. Kong this was a spiritual experience.

Mr. Kong shares the same birth date as Franz Liszt, born centuries apart and worlds apart, these two masters are brought together “in the music”. At 36 years old, Kong plays the piano with an understanding and emotional intelligence well beyond his years. Mr. Kong’s interpretation of “Rhapsodie Espanole” puts all your senses in overdrive. This piece is rarely performed, as it is so complex, Kong’s hands seem to move in different directions and the same directions simultaneously at a lightening pace with elegance and grace. Kong’s performance of Chopin’s “Nocturne” mesmerizes you. The soft delicate notes of the piano smoothly slip into your conscious mind and reside in your subconscious for hours after it has been performed. One cannot escape Kong’s spell, as he is able to musically put you in a trance of higher spiritual thinking. This is what a “musician’s musician” is all about-- music as religion. Kong’s music is so spiritual it reaches to the core of one’s existence; he plays his music with all his being. Because of his depth musically and personally he brings out the gifts in all of us, particularly the gift of feeling. Kong reaches to the humanity in all of us, just as the teachings of his famous ancestor, Confucius, he teaches us about striving to bring out our virtue.

Where does all this come from? Because Kong Xiang-Dong was born during the Cultural Revolution, he was not able to listen to western music, as the Chinese government forbade it. He learned to play the piano by practicing on a cardboard keyboard made by his mother. He heard the notes only in his head, until he was able to finally practice on a friend’s piano years later. His energy to create music goes well beyond himself; he has established the Kong Xiang-Dong Music Arts Center in Shanghai. The Music Arts Center introduces and educates young people to the world of classical piano and promotes international cultural exchange. He currently has 17 schools with about 7000 students, and is growing that network to 1500 music centers by the year 2006. In addition to his mentoring program, he performs 80 concerts a year throughout the world.

Mr. Kong has brought music awareness to China by organizing musical galas in Shanghai. He organized a concert with 200 pianos, in his own words, “that is not easy to rehearse, 200 pianos playing at once”. By bringing these types of events to China with people from all over the world, he teaches about the humanness in everyone with music.

As the 75th descendent of the great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, Kong brings wisdom to his music. His famous ancestor would be very proud that his teachings survive history and continue to be passed on to new generations. Confucius said, “It is by poetry that one’s mind is aroused; it is by ceremony that one’s character is regulated; it is by music that one becomes accomplished.” Kong Xiang-Dong has accomplished so much in such a short period of time. When Kong plays the “Yellow River Concerto”, it is like a transcendental experience. His fingers move with elegance, every strike on the keyboard awakens one’s spirit to the joy of the human experience, beauty, intelligence, happiness, and sorrow as it tells the story of the Yellow River, taking the listener on an emotionally charged adventure. Kong is an inspiring human being and a national treasure to his country. He has managed to combine the beauty in the eastern and western musical styles and brought a new understanding of the world and human behavior through his music. Xie Xie (thank you), Kong Xiang-Dong.

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