Giselher Smekal and Xu Fengxia  

Tian Guo- the duo of Xu Fengxia and Giselher Smekal: Piano, Voice and Guzheng. The Guzheng may be taken as a counterpart of the western piano. So, two dominant instruments of the oriental and the western tradition can communicate. But more important is the musical relationship of these two musicians that have studied their own traditions and styles and also the styles and traditions of the more remote culture. Giselher Smekal, born in Seefeld/Tyrol in 1945 started as a young composer in Austria. He won several prizes at youth competitions. In his early compositions the conductur was replaced by a drummer, musicians had to throw bowling balls for cues and a basket ball match influenced the musical output. Giselher Smekal became a member of Austria`s earliest free Jazz ensemble, the "Reform Art Unit". Later, he founded the "Sankyoku" ensemble to perform large scale compositions with instruments and live electronics, also including ritual drama elements. Besides working as a composer and musician Giselher Smekal also started to work the Austrian radio introducing and producing all shades of contemporary music. This is, how he started to know Xu Fengxia. Nevertheless, their musical cooperation started some years later. A duo called "Tian Guo" (=heavenly empire) reflects the most important aspect of their work. It started within a mulitmedia project of Linz artist Sigi Holzbauer who worked on the old asian tale of "Zhinu". The repertoire of "Tian Guo" includes music from the "Zhinu(Weaver`s princess) project, but also includes some compositions of Smekal like "Himmelsmechanik". The future will bring a silent movie program (music for the old Chinese film "Journey to the West") and a trio program with Wang Ming (composer and pipa/guzheng player from Taiwan). The film project will be shown in Vienna in october 2009 and the trio music will be heard at "Tirol Avantgarde" in august 2009. There also is a special children`s program based on the Zhinu tale.