“China’s Louis Armstrong” – Boston Radio 2001
“His melodious tremolo is highly expressive” – Washington Post 2005
“A brilliant performing artist” – La Tribune de Genève 2005
“Every note he plays moves the audiences” – Hong Kong Economic Times 2006
“I haven’t heard enough and am not willing to leave either. It was an emotion-filled evening” – Chou-yu Jeng, Poet 2007
“The performance of Mr. Guo is just like the light of the city” – Radio Television Hong Kong 2008
These are only some of the praises from music critics that have heard “the best suona player in China”, Yazhi Guo.
Guo is currently studying Jazz music in Boston. He is also a contracted soloist with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO), and Chairman of the Hong Kong Suona Association. He is employed by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a guest instructor, and is the examiner for the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (2008-2013).
Born in 1966 in Yuci, located in Shanxi province, China, Guo started his music lessons at age nine on the French horn. Five years later he was admitted to Jinzhong Art School in Shanxi province, where he studied erguxian (two-stringed bowed operatic instrument) and suona. In 1986, he was enrolled at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, under the supervision of Professor Jiaqi Chen and Mr. Haiquan Hu, the suona maestro. In 1990, he graduated with distinction and was offered a teaching position, eventually becoming a professor (1994) at the Central Conservatory of Music. From December 1999 to August 2011, Guo was the principal suona of the HKCO.
In 1993, Guo invented the removable reed for the suona, which gives the instrument chromatic capabilities and increases its range for expressiveness. This breakthrough was later recognized by the Ministry of Culture in China and earned Guo the Science and Technology Advancement Award. Currently, it is an irreplaceable device used by all suona players.
In 1998, Guo participated in New York’s International Pro Musicis Awards when it first included Chinese musical instruments as one of its categories. Guo walked away with the Grand Prize, rising above over 200 competitors from around the world. “He has taken an important first step in opening the door to the world of Chinese folk music.” – Overseas Chinese Daily. Afterwards, he performed 4 concerts (1999-2001) in Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Los Angeles.
In June 27, 1998, Guo was selected by the Ministry of Culture as one of China’s most Outstanding Musicians, and was invited to give a solo performance for the heads of states during President Clinton’s Beijing visit. At that concert, Guo played Reflections of the Moon on the Water and Chelsea Morning using suona and saxophone respectively, which delighted his audience.
Guo collaborated with many famous composers thereby opening a whole new realm in modern music for suona. He has premiered numerous works, including:
“China Capriccio” by Anlun Huang, 1995
“Call Phoenix” by Wenshen Qin, 1996
“Decadent Line of Vibration” Guoping Jia, 2002
“Bauhinia Concerto” by Kwong-Chiu Mui, 2007
“Dragon” by Lok-Yin Tang, 2008
“Forget the love in the heart & Troupe Kid”, by Joseph Koo, 2008
“Falling Up” by Lok-Yin Tang, 2009
“Fire Dragon” by Cheuk-Yin Ng, 2010
“Traces IV” by Deqing Wen, 2005
“Phoenix” by Shirui Zhu, 2007
“Desert River” by Haofu Zhang, 2009
Guo has performed with many orchestras, including Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, South Korea Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Belgium’s Flanders Symphony Orchestra, Gerard Tina French Jazz Band, Central Conservatory of Music Youth Orchestra, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Shanxi Province, Malaysia Chinese Orchestra, Macau Chinese Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan, China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra.
Guo has performed the “Silk Road Fantasia” Concerto with the HKCO in over twenty concerts. It is one of the most popular programs in his repertoire. Since 2000, wherever the HKCO performs around the world, Guo’s suona and guanzi performance is always the favourite! In April 13-14, 2007, HKCO presented two concerts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, “The Wonderful Winds of Guo Yazhi – The Suona Story”. The concerts were a success, with great reviews.
Since the 90s, Guo was one of the most sought after artists in Beijing’s music studios. He has recorded music for over a hundred movie and television programs. His discography includes:
“Suona Song” 1987
“Opera Suona Disco” 1988
“Chinese Suona” 1990
“Birds Pay Tribute to the Phoenix” 1993
“Suona Celebration Song” 1995
“Torrents of the River” 2007
“City Rhapsody” 2010
“Magic Brush – Jiping Zhao / Silk Road Fantasy” 2003 (DVD)
“Wonderful Winds of Guo Yazhi – The Suona Story” 2007
Guo has also become well known as a pop musician. He has performed in concert with respected Hong Kong composer, Joseph Koo, singers Hackin Lee, Anthony Wong & Prudence Liew. He has appeared in the Hong Kong Film Awards, Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Film Awards, CCTV Chinese Traditional Instruments Television Competition Award Presentation, as well as the joint television show by China, Taiwan and Hong Kong Television for the Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration, and in the 2009 CCTV’s Lantern Festival Celebration program. In 2009, he performed in the Hong Kong TVB Pearl’s program, “Applause to China”.
Guo’s suona music is brilliant and expressive. He has developed his own unique style that has earned him a huge following, taking suona from traditional to a new and exciting contemporary art form.