Yibin Li Leads Pupils in Violin Masterclass

Pupils in the Music department had an extraordinary opportunity to work with violinist Yibin Li is during a busy day of masterclasses, workshops and performances.

After early morning rehearsals in the Music department, Yibin visited Laxton Junior School where she was welcomed by Laxton Junior School’s Senior String Ensemble directed by Helen Smith and accompanied by Ben Smith on piano. 

Yibin then performed Shostakovich Duets with Angus Gibbon (Head of Strings) and Alec Hone (Head of Keyboard) from Oundle School. The audience was given the opportunity to ask questions, and in reply, received much encouragement to work hard and aim high.

More classes followed back at the Gascoigne, where the younger players were impressive. She suggested to several of them that they should seriously consider being a violinist. 

Her afternoon classes were for the most advanced players, some of whom recently took Dip ABRSM and LRSM examinations. Each pupil was offered encouragement and both technical and musical advice, and there was immediate progress for all to hear.

Late in the afternoon, Yibin returned to rehearse with the strings section of the Chamber Orchestra. She also listened to and advised Chon Tanchtikul (By) and Tom Hood (Ldr) as they rehearsed their movements from Vivaldi Seasons with the orchestra. 

The evening concert was a mixture of solo performances, some with orchestra and others with piano. After each performance Yibin offered praise alongside succinct and constructive advice for each performer.

Yibin performed the short song, Beau Soir, written by Debussy and transcribed for violin by Heifitz. Her playing was exquisite and masterful with subtle colouring and a real sense of atmosphere with highly sensitive accompaniment from Madoka Maxwell.

Great fun and music making of the highest order followed with the Senior Strings performing alongside Yibin and Angus Gibbon. From the outset the musical lines were projected with great clarity and the whole ensemble – undirected - played as if it was a small chamber ensemble. Section leaders took command of entries and ensemble and great credit go to Sophie Lee (L) and Jungho Lee (StA), Ken Zhao (StA), Harrison Smith (F) and Alex Hill (C) for their contributions.

Oundle Strings, directed by Helen Smith, then gave a sensitive account of the Waltz from the Greatest Showman.

The evening concluded with all of Oundle String players performing Sibelius Andante Festivo. Here the sound of 85 players, united in purpose and playing at full capacity, produced an astonishingly rounded string sound that brought the whole visit to a fitting conclusion. 

Born during the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution in China, Yibin Li’s first violin was salvaged from a pile of instruments that had been thrown out of a school because of the decadent bourgeois values related to western classical music by Mao Zedong.

Her musical journey, under the teaching of her father, one of the leading violin teachers in China led to a professorship at the leading music conservatory in Shanghai. Wishing to develop further, she then took up a scholarship to Juilliard in New York.