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Pentatonic Workshop

South Gate Space


John Lee Frame Drum And Overtone Singing Concert

Special Guest: Wu Na(Guqin)


Primitive Sound + Modern Ideas, Disclosing Possibilities of Music between Spirituality and Rationality.


Time: 8:00 pm, December 7th and 8th

Place: South Gate Space

Dashanzi 798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Advance Tickets RMB 50 / General Admission RMB 60
Advance ticket reservations: 6438 2797
For more information: 13641194212


The concert will center around different frame drums from different traditions, mixing modern musical ideas with traditional rhythms. The music is all original composition.

The first part of the concert is frame drum solo and overtone singing. The second part is using hand drum technique on non-drum instruments like woodblock, gong, water pan (self-made) etc.? Compositional ideas and playing techniques are inspired by Indian, Middle Eastern and Central Asian traditional drumming.

The frame drums used in the concert include Bodhran (Ireland), Rig (Egypt), Tar (N. Africa) and Ghaval (Central Asia) etc.

Special guest Wu Na will use her guqin(seven-stringed Chinese zither) to carry out an improvisational dialogue with Lee’s frame drum playing and overtone singing, offering the audience an uncommon listening experience.



John Lee

John Lee is a self-taught percussionist from Hong Kong. He studied modern dance, classical piano in his early years and started to teach himself frame drum since 1990.

He has been regularly giving musical theatre productions since 1987, recent works included ‘Ghost Festival’ in Germany (1999), ‘East Dragon Festival’ in Japan (2000) and ‘Frame Drum Solo Concert in New York (2003). He also released his solo piano CD “The Piano Story” in 1996 and hand drumming CD “Holodrum” in 2001. Because of his unique music and dance background, his music was always mixed with movement and theatrical ideas before 1995, however, after 1995 his interest dramatically turned to different kinds of hand drums because of the sound and personality of these instruments.

In 2002, he went to New York and North America under Asian Cultural Council Scholarship to further his frame drum and throat singing technique. He studied with teachers like Glen Velez and Ed Herbsd, etc.

For the last few years, he even gave up theatre and only focus on teaching and performing frame drum. Combined different hand drumming techniques and compositional ideas all over the world like India, the Middle East, Central Asia etc., he developed a mixture style of drumming that’s highly professional and personal.





  1. Began to learn guqin at nine as a pupil of Zhao Jiazhen, the famous guqin player, while tutored by other musicians as Li Xiangting, Wu Wenguang, Gong Yi, etc.
  2. Studied guqin at the Music School Attached to the Central Conservatory of Music since 1991.
  3. Majored in guqin at the Central Conservatory of Music since 1997.
  4. Was recommended in 2001 for admission to the graduate school of the Central Conservatory of Music, as a graduate student of the famous guqin player, educator Li Xiangting, and also the first graduate student in China in guqin performance major.
  5. Graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in 2004 being conferred the master’s degree of quqin, and joined the Central Ensemble of the Folk Music as a guqin player.


  1. 1992, won the title of “Excellent Performer” (the champion) in Hangzhou International Guqin Game.
  2. 1994, won the title of “Excellent Performer” (the champion) in The First Chinese Traditional Instruments Game of. the Central Conservatory of Music.
  3. November 1998, won the title of “Excellent Performer” (the champion) in The First Longyin Chinese Traditional Instruments Game of the Central Conservatory of Music.
  4. 2000, won the first prize Summer Redstone Scholarship. 2001, played the guqin in the dinner party for Summer Redstone’s visit to China as the winner of Summer Redstone Scholarship.
  5. 2002, won the champion of the young professional group in The National Youngsters’ Game of Art – Solo Game of Chinese Traditional Instruments sponsored by the Ministry of Art.


  1. 1995, minored in cello performance as a pupil of Professor Zong Bai, the cello player and educator, and began to learn western music. The next year, joined the Chinese Traditional Music Band of the Music School Attached to the Central Conservatory of Music as a cello player, and participated in varied types of rehearsals and performances.
  2. 1997, began to minor in double bass performance as a pupil of Song Yi, the young bass player. The next year, joined the Youth’s Chinese Traditional Orchestra of the school as a double bass player, and participated in activities as rehearsals, recordings and performances. The practice in the orchestra provided me with rich band experiences and the opportunities to play the modern music of the excellent modern composers. The same year, participated in the recording of the disc Fire Sacrifice – The Modern Folk Orchestral Music.
  3. March 1997, invited by Taipei Folk Orchestra, I participated in the performances and lectures of “Taipei Traditional Art Quarter”, and succeeded in playing the guqin at Taipei National Concert Hall. As a grade-three high school student then, I have been the youngest guqin player from Mainland China ever invited by the Chinese traditional music circles of Taiwan, which was an important experience for me, and also provided the people in Taiwan with the information about the performing and living conditions of the young quqin players in Mainland China.
  4. November 1999, participated in the performance named 1999 International Jazz Collection as the guqin player of the band “Chen Dili and his friends”, which realized my dream to combine guqin and the modern music.
  5. January 1st 2000, invited by CCTV, I participated in the live program Meeting in 2000 – Greeting the First Ray of the New Millennium on Mount Tai as the guqin player. TV stations around the world played the program simultaneously as one of the activities of China to greet the new millennium. Then my talk about the Chinese traditional culture in the later interview was played in the world-synchronous program Time Capsule. The program Oriental Horizon of CCTV and other media also made special reports about the activity.
  6. 2002, cooperated with “coco”, the Shanghai jazz singer, to make impromptu performances in activities as 2002 International Fashion Week and 2002 Shanghai Tour Festival etc.
  7. 2003, established “Lisao Guqin House”which is rooted in Chinese traditional culture.
  8. 2004, Compiled and published the book A New Learner’s Course of Guqin at the request of the Zhuoyue Culture Company.
  9. 2004, held the solo concert of graduation in the Central Conservatory of Music.
  10. 2004, recorded the guqin impromptu part for the new albums of Kong Hongwei, the jazz pianist, Cui Jian and Xu Wei, the rock singers.
  11. 2005, cooperated with the musician Dou Wei to manufactured the album of the instrumental music Muliang Wenwamg – Shandou Jishiye, Jiran Pinqiguo where the guqin impromptu play was the main part. In the same year, recorded the guqin impromptu part for the new album Bahe Jiusheng of Dou Wei and his band “Uncertain”.
  12. 2005, was invited by Cui Jian, the Chinese rock singer, to be the guqin player in Dream in the Sunlight – The Solo Concert of Cui Jian in the Capital Gymnasium, Beijing.
  13. 2005, became the host of “Sitong House” which was the original “Lisao Guqin House”.?
  14. May 2006, played the guqin part of the modern opera The Fantasy of Red Queen at the request of the famous composer Liu Suola, and participated in the performances in Germany.
  15. May 2006, cooperated with Dou Wei and the band “Uncertainty” to manufacture the album of impromptu play A Journey to the East and Shuixian Hougu Qingfengyue.
  16. August 2006, was invited by the American composer Eli Mashall to participate in the International Scripture Reading Art Festival in Korea, where The Son of Buda a work by Eli Mashall was played by the American clarinet player Keith Lipson and me.
  17. October 2006, held the activities of lectures and performances named “Guqin in Campuses” in the Beijing Normal University, Renmin University of China and the Communication University of China.