Singapore Arts Festival 2004 Presents Yang Yi and Hang Tian


Yang Yi and Hang Tian


Beijing Folk Rock


 Date:  1 & 2 June 2004, 8 pm 
 Venue:  Victoria Concert Hall
 Tickets:  $52, $42, $32, $22
 Duration:  120 minutes (with intermission)


He borrows a wooden stool each morning from a shop near the National Art Museum in Beijing, China, opens his guitar case for donations and croons original compositions inspired by stories about the everyday and the obscure in China.  He has returned to the same spot every winter to busk since 1992.  His name is Yang Yi. 


Dubbed China’s Bob Dylan, Yang Yi will perform his style of contemporary Chinese folk music at this year’s Singapore Arts Festival. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, his concerts throughout China have attracted a cult following.  He will share the stage with Hang Tian, another leading musician from China. 


Born in a rural village in Shandong, Hang Tian was on his way to becoming a businessman. But because of his deep affinity for blues and rock music, he chose to follow his musical inclinations instead.  His debut album, My Heart Is A Fried Broad Bean, which blends Western blues with Chinese rock, was released in 1999.  His second album, Cold Water On My Head, released in 2002, is blues-infused and deeply rooted in Chinese folk music. 


 Both musicians draw inspiration from the lives of ordinary Chinese people, enticing audiences to experience and empathise with the underlying emotions of their countrymen. 


One of Yang Yi’s more popular songs, Baked Sweet Potatoes, tells the story of a sweet potato seller’s brush with the police. His dreams of returning to his village home are dashed when his entire stock is confiscated. As he drifts off to sleep, the song ends with words of comfort, “There will come a day when you are in paradise, and there will be no more police.”


Hang Tian’s Cold Water On My Head centres on an ill-fated relationship, which poignantly tugs at the heartstrings with lyrics like “How can we just be friends all of a sudden, after so many ‘I love you?'


The attached annexes provide more information on the programme and their repertoire of Beijing folk rock songs:

  • Annex 1 – Cast List and Programme
  • Annex 2 – Synopsis of Beijing Folk Rock
  • Annex 3 – Biographies of Artists