Xiaoxiao Hou
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Duets: Poetry and Music with Jennifer Lee Tsai and Xiaoxiao Hou

Join us for the second of two performances with our artist in residence Jennifer Lee Tsai, who will perform readings of her poetry alongside musician Xiaoxiao Hou.


2:00pm - 4:00pm


Sun 23 June 2024

Sun 23 Jun, 2pm | Free entry

Join us for the second of two performances with our artist in residence Jennifer Lee Tsai. Lee Tsai will perform readings of her poetry alongside musician Xiaoxiao Hou. The performance will take place within Michelle Williams Gamaker’s expansive gallery installation, amongst seating made from shredded scripts and posters.

Xiaoxiao (筱潇 xiǎo xiāo) will perform playing the Guzheng 古筝 (gǔ zhēng). Also known as a Chinese zither or harp, the Guzheng is plucked string instrument with a tradition dating back more than 2,500 years. It is not only an instrument, but also a piece of art and decoration. It shows a close relationship between painting and calligraphy, such as carved art, painting, shell carving with jade, and so on. The strings, once made of silk, are these days almost always made from nylon-coated steel, which increases the instrument's volume as well as changing its timbre. Performers of the Guzheng often wear fingerpicks on one or both hands, which are often made from materials such as ivory, resin or hard plastic.

In Chinese classical music, Guzheng were often used to represent things as grand as mountains, but also as delicate as streamlets. Guzheng players are always elegant and peaceful, like they just walked out from one of the Chinese paintings. The way to play and demonstrate Guzheng music is connected very closely to Chinese philosophies as well as other art forms in Chinese culture.

Jennifer Lee Tsai. Photography by Suzanne Lau.
Xiaoxiao Hou

Born in China, and based in Liverpool, Xiaoxiao Hou acquired her Bachelor in Music Education from Jiangnan University China, her Masters in Musicology from Durham University and Applied Psychology from University of Leeds. She previously worked at the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds, Harrogate Grammar School and Rossett School. She is doing PhD project in University of Liverpool located across the fields of Psychology, Public Health and Music with the working title of “Hit the Right Note: Improving the well-being and quality of life upon people with dementia, caregivers and ageing population”.

Xiaoxiao has held many Guzheng concerts in both China and the UK. Performing in different venues for different themes and with musicians from different genres shaped her as a professional musician. She has unique insights in expressively performing on both traditional and modern repertoires. She has performed in various venues including Westminster Central Hall London, World Museum at Liverpool, Victoria Gallery and Museum, the Tung Auditorium, Manchester United Football Club, Science and Industry Museum Manchester, Liverpool Everyman Theatre, Leeds Millennium Square, Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Carriageworks Theatre, Royal Armouries Leeds, Bradford City Park, Newcastle Town Hall, Birmingham Town Hall, Hartlepool Town Hall, Durham University, University of Bradford, Northumbria University, University of Leeds, Liverpool Hope University, University of Huddersfield, and University of Sheffield.

Lee Tsai’s work explores themes of myth, memory and migration, second-generation British-Chinese identity as well as ancestral trauma, love, loss, belonging, transformation, rebirth and strength. Her poetry moves between Hong Kong, China and Liverpool, and across generations to navigate linguistic and cultural heritages. Her poetry and criticism are widely published in magazines and journals including The Guardian, Poetry London, The Poetry Review, and The White Review. Jennifer received a Northern Writers Award for Poetry in 2020. She is a winner of the 2022 Women Poets’ Prize. Her second poetry pamphlet La Mystérique (2022) is published by Guillemot Press. She currently holds the Whittenham Bursary, a one year studio bursary at Bluecoat aimed at supporting artists in Liverpool.

The performance forms part of The Lives of Artists, a season of exhibitions, commissions and events that asks audiences what might be uncovered about ourselves when we listen to the testimony, histories, and stories of artists reflecting on their lives.

Sun 23 Jun, 2pm | Free entry