The University of Birmingham’s China Institute is marking the Chinese New Year with the help of some world-class musicians.

Pianist Di Xiao, cellist Jiaxin Lloyd Webber and guitarist Xiefei Yang will perform in the University’s Bramall Music Building to staff, students, partners and members of the Chinese community from across the West Midlands and beyond. The musical trio will help celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Sheep with traditional Chinese music that is set to transport the audience to the land of dragons and emperors.


Celebrations marking the Year of the Sheep will also include a networking lunch and a fair showcasing the University’s engagement with China, which ranges from research collaborations with some of China’s best universities to working alongside the municipal government in Guangzhou.

The University’s relationship with China dates back to its foundation. In fact, the first Chinese student joined the University in 1907 and there are now over 10,000 Chinese alumni.

The University of Birmingham launched its China Institute in 2012 to gather together their wide-ranging research activities with Chinese partners and encourage inter-disciplinary research across the University that focuses on China. In addition to the Birmingham based Institute, the University established a presence in Shanghai in 2009 and opened the Guangzhou Centre in 2011, to host its activities in China.

Peter Clack, Director of International Relations, said:

‘Chinese New Year offers the perfect opportunity for the University of Birmingham to celebrate our proud and longstanding relationship with China. Our engagement with China spans 100 years and with many more exciting initiatives underway, we believe this intercultural friendship will go from strength to strength.

‘Our event will provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about the University’s work in China and to meet others with a similar interest.’

The University of Birmingham’s Chinese New Year celebrations will take place in the Bramall Music Building Rotunda and Elgar Concert Hall on Friday 20 February from 11:00 until 14:00. Interested parties can register on the University’s website.


  • For interview requests, more information or to attend the Chinese New Year celebrations, please contact Ben Goodwin, International Media Relations Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254
  • For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0) 7789 921 165
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.

Artist Biographies

Di Xiao (Didi), Piano (pictured above)

Described as ‘a pianist of awesome gifts’ pianist Di Xiao’s international career started at 17 when she played the Yellow River Piano Concerto for the Malaysian Royal Family in Kuala Lumpur. Subsequently she has taken to the stage across the globe from Europe to Malaysia, Singapore, Ukraine, India, China and the UK. In 2009 Di was selected as the UK’s representative to the universally acclaimed European Concert Halls Organisation (ECHO) Rising Stars series which took her to some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls.

Di is the director of the International Piano Academy and has held teaching positions at both the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Conservatoire. In 2014 Di was awarded a ‘distinguished contribution to culture and arts’ by the Mulan Foundation (UK) and an Honorary Professorship by Shanxi University (China).

Media appearances include Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4), In Tune (BBC 3) and Classic FM. TV Phoenix made a documentary on Di’s musical journey in 2012.

Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, Cello

Jiaxin Lloyd Webber graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1997. She was already giving performances with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, but left China for further studies in New Zealand, where she received her Master Degree at Auckland University in 2001.

While in New Zealand, Jiaxin was principal cello of the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, a founder member of the Aroha String Quartet and played regularly with both the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Now living in London, Jiaxin is married to the world renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and has performed with Julian for BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, CNN Global TV and BBC TV. They have recorded for Universal Classics and Naxos and in 2014 they will tour together with both the English Chamber Orchestra and the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

Xuefei Yang, Guitar

Born in Beijing and now based in the UK, Xuefei Yang is acclaimed as one of the world’s finest classical guitarists.

As a professional musician, Fei has performed concerts in 40 countries throughout the UK, Europe, Asia and North America. In 2003 she performed 54 concerts for the ‘Night of the Proms Tour’, appearing in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to a total audience of over 800,000 people.

Fei has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes, including Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4), BBC Proms, Newsnight (BBC Two), The Story of Guitar and ITV's Classic BRIT's in the UK, as well as prime-time national TV in China, Spain, New Zealand and Portugal. China Central Television made a biographical documentary on Fei for their classical musicians series. Fei has an exclusive international recording contract with EMI Classics.