Robin Wang, a Legendary Chinese Folk Musician
(December 28, 1913—March 15, 1996)
Robin Wang was born in Beijing, China. At age 24, with three friends, Robin visited northwest China and was attracted by their local folk songs, especially music of the Silk Road. Feeling they were the best in the world, he devoted himself to collecting and revising that music the rest of his life.

Robin Wang visited every corner of Xinjiang in far northwest China, and has collected and revised hundreds of folk songs. Many of which are known by most Chinese people worldwide. However, for political reasons, Robin Wang spent 19 years in prison. He lost his family, his loving wife, even his name.

Robin Wang was recognized by Chinese society sometime in the later 1980’s.  In the summer of 1994, he was invited to the United States by Dr. Fengshi Yang, and performed with East Meets West Music Arts at the University of Chicago, where music of the Silk Road was presented in the concert --- “In that Distant Realm”. Following that performance, he and Dr. Fengshi Yang collaborated in a collection of recordings, which include music of different ethnic groups along the Silk Road in Xinjiang China. The recordings were narrated and sung by Robin Wang himself. During a 3-month stay in Chicago, he was interviewed by Dr. Fengshi Yang who collected many of his extraordinary stories, both of music and of his personal life in several hours of recordings.

Shortly after Robin Wang returned to Xinjiang, he sent Dr. Yang a handwritten copy of a newly composed musical piece with complete librettos and melodies, a tragic love story based on a folk lore of the Silk Road,  and asked Dr. Yang to compose a full operatic work to perform in the near future.  He said he would come again to Chicago to join the performance when the music was done.

In January 1996, East Meets West Music presented another Silk Road music concert, “The Half Moon is Rising in the Sky”. But, Robing Wang was too ill to attend. In March 1996, Robin Wang died at age of 83 in Xinjiang China where his musical spirit was born. The following month, East Meets West Music Arts held a special concert in memory of Robin Wang. His music and his spirit will be always with us.
Robin and Fengshi at a Silk Road Music lecture
Robin and Fengshi at work
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