Guo Brothers

China (Peoples Republic)

Music has always been a vital part of the Guo Brothers' lives. Their father was a well-known erhu player (Chinese two-stringed violin) and a fine singer. During the Cultural Revolution their mother was despatched to the countryside and, on their father's death, the boys were left to grow up in the Musicians Compound. In Peking professional working people lived together in such 'compounds' and so, surrounded by other musicians, Yi and Yue naturally moved towards music as a career. Self-motivation drove them to studying. Living in extreme poverty, they picked up tuition as they could, even paying teachers in measures of cooking oil.

The brothers began playing various instruments and now Yue specialises in Chinese flutes while Yi plays the ancient sheng, a hand-held mouth-blown organ.

Yue's first professional job was in the Army Orchestra of the People's Republic of China, travelling to remote areas to entertain troops and carrying his flute across the country by train or on horseback. Yi joined the Peking Film Orchestra at the age of fifteen, and within three years had become a renowned soloist and composer, featuring on the soundtracks of over 200 films.

The brothers came to England some years ago to further their studies, and their musical experience proved invaluable when David Byrne asked them to contribute to the soundtrack of the film "The Last Emperor."

In the summer of 1989, having succeeded in the long and difficult process of obtaining passports, the members of Shung Tian arrived in England. A week later they were watching events in Tiananmen Square from a very new perspective. These musicians, former colleagues of Yi in the Peking film Orchestra, are almost unique in that they are one of very few groups to come from China without state support. The group included Yue and Yi's sister, Guo Xiaun, an accomplished opera singer.