Classical guitarist Xuefei Yang announces the release of Guitar Favourites, her next album by UMG China on the Decca label due for release on 24 November 2022. The album represents Xuefei’s unlikely journey to become the finest Chinese guitarist on the world stage through a collection of much-loved tracks known to classical guitar lovers around the world. Xuefei has put together a personal selection of pieces showcasing her musical journey, including pieces she played as a young girl through to audience favourites she’s performed countless times on stage over the years. The album also features Xuefei’s first composition, Xinjiang Fantasy, a work based on traditional folksongs from the Xinjiang region in north-west China, and the world premiere recording of a piece by guitarist John C. Williams.

Xuefei Yang said: “The guitar feels like a life-companion for me. After more than 35 years with my guitar, I have grown as a person and as an artist. I know the guitar better than ever, and I feel I have my own voice on it. My desire to have more people fall in love with this beautiful instrument has become stronger. I feel that it’s time to return to the quintessential guitar music that first drew me, and many others, under its spell. This music touched me from first listen, and over the years continued to reveal ever more facets. I am very excited to present Guitar Favourites as it reflects who I am now.  I’m very much hoping my personal interpretation of these guitar favourites will connect with and inspire others.”

The album is the product, as well as the embodiment, of an unlikely, pioneering musical journey: from humble beginnings in a culture with no guitar tradition, Xuefei gave up a normal education at a highly regarded school to become the first ever guitar student to enter a music school in China.

As the first Chinese student to be awarded a scholarship from ABRSM, Xuefei went on to become the first Chinese guitarist to study at London’s Royal Academy of Music, and the first to launch a professional career on the world stage.

Spanish classical guitar music remains central to the repertoire and was a core element of Xuefei’s early years. She first played Francisco Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra, an iconic piece in the Spanish guitar repertoire, when she was just 10 years old. Another major work on the album is La Catedral by Paraguayan composer Agustín Barrios Mangoré, which Xuefei played in the final of the Beijing Guitar Competition when she was just 11 years old, competing against adults. Fandango by Rodrigo carries special significance for Xuefei, as the composer attended her Spanish debut concert in Madrid when she was 14. The world premiere recording of When the birds return, a work by fellow guitarist John C. Williams, features on the album too. Xuefei met John in Beijing when she was a teenager, and his encouragement renewed her ambition to become a professional guitarist.