Wellington, New Zealand – September 27, 2023 – The Hulusi, a woodwind musical instrument native to southwest China’s Yunnan Province, has captured the hearts of music lovers worldwide with its smooth and tender tones, delivering an authentic Chinese flavor. In New Zealand’s South Island, one man stands out as a star in the Chinese community due to his remarkable mastery of this traditional Chinese musical instrument – David Stringer.
Last weekend, Stringer mesmerized the audience with a beautiful rendition of the Chinese folk melody “Deep in the Bamboo Forest” on the hulusi at the annual Moon Festival Gala Concert organized by the Chinese community in Christchurch.
While the hulusi may seem easy to play at a basic level, Stringer tackled the challenging “Deep in the Bamboo Forest,” which is a Grade 6 exam piece, showcasing his impressive skills on this unique instrument. He also goes by the name Qin Dawei, a Chinese moniker he holds dear.
Stringer explained that “Deep in the Bamboo Forest” vividly portrays the early spring sunshine flooding the earth and the enchanting music that drifts through the depths of the bamboo forest.
The Hulusi, also known as the cucurbit flute and gourd flute, is a free reed wind instrument originating from China. In recent years, it has found resonance with European composers and performers.
Stringer’s hulusi performance was just one of over 20 music and dance programs featured at the Moon Festival Gala Concert. The event celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, an annual occasion of love and family reunion on the Chinese lunar calendar, which fell on a Friday this year.
Stringer’s journey with the hulusi began ten years ago when he first encountered the instrument during a trip to Zhangjiajie in central China’s Hunan province. Intrigued by the hulusi, he was gifted one by a friend who also taught him the basics of playing it.
The following year, Stringer returned to China and acquired a C Major hulusi in Changsha and a B-Flat one in the city of Yueyang. Today, he possesses a total of five hulusi of different tune types.
“From a young age, I was introduced to Chinese culture. More recently, I have been learning Chinese and making many friends in the Chinese community in Christchurch. Like New Zealanders, I find them friendly and encouraging,” said Stringer.
As immigration has increased, Chinese cultural celebrations such as the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival have played a significant role in enriching New Zealand’s cultural landscape.
Stringer actively participates in a hulusi group in Christchurch and has performed with them on numerous occasions. “Just like being part of a choir, I have found that the friendships formed are beneficial for me and my language learning. It brings us all together,” he expressed.
Stringer concluded, “I have been privileged to make friends with many Chinese people, learn from them, and perform with them. It brings us together, Qian Li Gong Chan Juan.” He also noted that the Mid-Autumn Festival, known as the Harvest Festival in the West, holds great importance for the Chinese people, especially as it coincides with China’s National Day.
David Stringer’s mastery of the hulusi flute has not only enriched his life but also fostered cultural connections and shared experiences that transcend borders, embodying the universal language of music.