Xuefei Yang is hailed as a musical pioneer – her fascinating journey began after the Cultural Revolution, a period when Western musical instruments and music were banned.

She was the first-ever guitarist in China to enter a music school and became the first internationally recognised Chinese guitarist on the world stage.

Yang’s first public appearance was at the age of 10 and received such acclaim that the Spanish Ambassador in China presented her with a concert guitar. Her debut in Madrid at the age of 14 was attended by the composer Joaquín Rodrigo and, when John Williams heard her play, he gave two of his own instruments to Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music especially for her and other advanced students. Yang was the first guitar student to be awarded an ABRSM international scholarship to undertake her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied under Professor Michael Lewin and won the Principal’s Prize on graduation.

Yang is one of the few guitarists whose artistry connects with audiences far beyond the guitar fraternity. Her international success has led her to be invited to play in more than 50 countries at numerous prestigious venues and she is frequently invited to play with the world’s leading orchestras and collaborate with artists such as Ian Bostridge, Rosalind Plowright and Sir James Galway.

Yang has made many a wide variety of acclaimed recordings for major labels, including solo, chamber and concerto albums. Her first on EMI Classics received a gold disc and her second was selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine. Her recording Sketches of China was released in 2020 by Universal. She has appeared on numerous media channels including BBC Radio 4’s Woman's Hour, the BBC Proms and documentaries for the BBC and China Central Television.

Gramophone magazine praised Yang as one of the leading innovators of her generation for continuing to build the guitar repertoire, while Classic FM named her one of the 100 top classical musicians of our time.

Photo by Neil Muir