A special gift from Cremona (vedio click), and more stories at Art Of Survival

One of my most wonderful memories is of the time in Cremona, in Italy.

Cremona has a distinguished musical history, beginning with the violins of the Amati family and later included the Guarneri and Stradivari workshops. That was the reason for me going there, as my own cello is a copy of a Stradivari. Secretly, I wanted to see how my cello sounded in its homeland. It was a magical experience both for me and my cello!

center square in Cremona

I met a Japanese boy before we got off the train. He can’t speak much English, but understood that we need help. He rang his friends, and friends’ friends. Then 20 minutes later, a Chinese boy called Lu Xiang appeared at the Cremona train station. Woo, we met an angel again! He kindly offered I and Lindsey a place to stay, as well as a nice Chinese meal.  Later that night, I played in a big square in the town centre, in front of the city hall. Another local violin-maker called Xue Yi, friend of Lu Xiang, who originally comes from China, came to speak to me after my performance. He said that he was very impressed by my playing, and that it was very rare to see a Chinese musician in this town. We both soon felt that we had found a great friend.

The next morning, before we had to head off to our next destination, he asked me to play one more piece, just for him. Without hesitation, I played the Sarabande from the Bach cello suites No.5: the most simple and touching piece to say good-bye. Then the magic happened. He brought out a half-made cello and said that once it was finished he would give it to me. This would be his way of saying thanks for my performance, and he hoped that one day I would be able to play this cello in the best concert halls in the world.

I knew from the very beginning that this challenge would provide me with a great opportunity to use music to reach people, and to see how different cultures respond to my music. I was looking for something extreme and memorable on this trip, but still can’t believe all this really happened to me. It often amazed me how generous people could be, far beyond what I had expected. This gift from Xue Yi is exceptional: a hand-made cello. It took him more than ten months to make and to me it is piece of art, utterly priceless!  The cello has been completed now. Inside the cello, he wrote Fovet musica omnes. It is the Royal Northern College of Music’s motto in Latin, and it means Music Reaches Everybody.

I am using this cello to record Bach cello suites No.5, and you can hear the unique voice of  this baby cello in my up coming recording In Love With Bach -vol.2

He wrote “Fovet musica omnes” inside the cello. It is RNCM’s motto in Latin, means Music reaches people.    (more stories about my adventure )