Master of music passes way
China Daily

Jin Tielin poses for photo at an event in Hong Kong, in December, 2013. (Photo: China News Service)

Jin Tielin, a well-known singer, vocal teacher and the former president of the China Conservatory of Music, died in hospital in Beijing on Nov 15. He was 83.

The death was officially confirmed by the conservatory, which released an obituary on Nov 15.

Born in 1940 into a family of doctors in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, Jin was interested in music from childhood. In August 1960, Jin came to Beijing to study singing at the Central Conservatory of Music with professor Shen Xiang, a renowned vocal educator.

As a student, Jin not only learned to sing as a tenor, but also was keen on doing research about vocal techniques. His teacher, Shen, noticed Jin's interest in analyzing singing methods and encouraged him to become a vocal teacher. In 1963, when Jin was still a student, he started to give vocal training to students of the Central Conservatory of Music.

After graduation in 1965, Jin became a soloist at the Central Orchestra, now the China National Symphony Orchestra.

He also learned to perform Peking Opera when yangbanxi, a series of revolution-themed modern Peking Operas produced during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), was popular.

Peking Opera, also known as jingju in Chinese, is a 200-year-old traditional art form combining singing, dancing and martial arts. The singing style of Peking Opera performances ranges from high-pitched voices to deep and soft voices, depending on different roles.

"I was in love with Peking Opera back then and it made me think about how to combine the unique singing style with the Western singing style, which I learned and performed as a soloist," Jin once said in an interview.

From 1981 to 1985, Jin taught at the China Conservatory of Music and began to explore his own teaching methods in vocal music, especially Chinese-styled vocal music - combining the Western style of operatic singing and that of Chinese folk songs.

Through years of practice and experience, he gradually developed a teaching method and trained Chinese celebrity singers, including Li Guyi, Song Zuying, Dai Yuqiang and Wu Bixia.

"I always enjoy my time with my students because we learn together. When they make progress, I make progress at the same time," Jin said.

From 1996 to 2009, he served as the president of the China Conservatory of Music.

He also published books about his music teaching methods and served as a judge at numerous national vocal music competitions.

"He had devoted his whole life to training Chinese singers. He will be missed," said tenor Dai in an interview with Beijing Youth Daily.

"I went to the hospital after I got the news of him passing away. I was told that he had a lovely morning that day. The weather was good. He had his breakfast and, the day before, he talked with his son, who had returned to Beijing from Shanghai," said Dai in a video he shared on social media.

"He passed away peacefully in his sleep."

Dai, 59, who also was trained by the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, has achieved fame home and abroad for his performances at London's Covent Garden and Royal Opera House and Milan's La Scala Opera House, among others. He has played major roles in operas such as Turandot, La Traviata, Carmen and La Boheme.

Jin's first wife and former student, Li Guyi, wrote on social media platform, Zhihu, mourning Jin's death.

"He was my teacher and my friend. He was a pioneer with his teaching method about Chinese-styled singing. He made a great contribution to China's music education. May he rest in peace," said Li, 78, who is known for performing songs such as Homeland Love and Unforgettable Tonight.

"He was a teacher who was open-minded and offered his students lots of space to develop their own ideas," said soprano Wu Bixia on WeChat. Wu studied with Jin after she was enrolled to pursue a master's degree at the China Conservatory of Music in 1999.

"Though he was strict, he was very good at communicating with his students thanks to his sense of humor," said Wu. "Jin loved teaching. Last year, I met him at the school and we talked for a while before his class."

Bo Linlin, a professor of the vocal performance department of the Xinghai Conservatory of Music, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, studied with Jin in 1994. While mourning Jin's death, Bo recalled in an interview with Nanfang Metropolis Daily on Nov 16, that she was inspired by Jin to become a vocal teacher.

"He connected with his students and tailored his instruction to a wider range of learning styles based on each student's character," Bo said.

"He was good at observing his students and helped us realize our potential."