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Artist Interview: Meng Su, guitar

Guitarist Meng Su of the Beijing Guitar Duo debuts with PCMS on Wednesday, March 1st at the American Philosophical Society, in recital with Marina Piccinini, flute. Ms. Su took a moment away from her busy teaching, rehearsing, and studying schedule to answer questions about how she began playing guitar; her mentor; competing and winning; recording; and the upcoming recital.

Jessica Wolford: When and how did you begin playing guitar?

Meng Su: It was when I was five and a half years old. I was playing at my mom’s work, and she mentioned again that she wanted me to learn an instrument. I remember she gave me two final choices that day: violin and guitar, and I was running up and down the stairs and replied casually “the guitar”. I probably picked the guitar because it was a new word to me - I had known what a violin sounded like but didn’t have a clue about the guitar. Little did I know that I’d be spending every day in my life with the guitar after that day.

JW: You seem to have a great mentor in Manuel Barrueco, legendary guitarist, with whom the Beijing Guitar Duo also performs. How has his mentorship influenced you as an artist?

MS: I became a student of Maestro Barrueco at age 18, and since then he has been a mentor in my music-making, career, and life. Maestro Barrueco himself shows me what a true artist is like: with discipline, vision, sincerity and persistence.

JW: You are the first guitarist to have won both the youth and main Parkening Competition and the first female to make it to the final round and win. Could you describe your participation in the Competition?

MS: In 2006, right after I won the Youth Parkening, I told an interviewer that I’d come back for the main competition. He smiled, but I don’t think he took me seriously. And in 2014, when I saw the news about the 2015 Parkening Competition, I realized that’s my chance to realize my promise. So I entered. It was a really smooth and unforgettable experience. I prepared well and I performed well. In the final round where it was concerto with orchestra, I really enjoyed it as a performance rather than competition.

JW: You just released your first solo album. How was the experience recording solo compared to recording as a duo?

MS: To me, recording duo is fun, a lot of talking and communicating with my partner Yameng Wang. Recording solo is sort of talking to myself, digging inside deeper and deeper. I enjoy both processes.

JW: This is a unique recital with guitar and flute. Could you discuss your relationship with Marina Piccinini and what excites you about playing this repertoire?

MS: Marina is a wonderful artist to work with; her playing is so inspiring and we have a great time rehearsing together. The program we have for this tour is a great combination of traditional and contemporary music from Bach to Piazzolla. I look forward to playing this wonderful program with Marina in Philadelphia!

Meng Su appears in recital with Marina Piccinini on Wednesday, March 1 at 8pm at the American Philosophical Society. For tickets and information, please visit the concert page

For more information on Ms. Su and to purchase her album, please visit her website.

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