Zi Lan Laio

Zi Lan Laio

​Internationally renowned musician

Director of Pagoda Arts

Zi Lan Liao learned to play the Chinese Harp (Guzheng) at the age of 3. By the age of 9 she was already winning major competitions in China, including the Young Musician of the Year in 1982. By the time she left China in 1982, her reputation as a virtuoso performer was already established. She made an immediate impact on her arrival in the UK by winning at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen. In 1985, she went to study the Concert Harp in Chetham School of Music, in Manchester and the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London.

After graduating from RAM in 1992, Zi Lan worked as soloist freelance playing the Guzheng, the concert harp and performing Chinese Dance as part of her solo concerts which she performed worldwide. She has worked in collaboration with world acclaimed musicians such as: Peter Gabriel; Jah Wobble and Elinor Bennett. She has been involved with many cross culture or arts projects around the world. Certain western composers have written music dedicated to Zi Lan for the Guzheng as well as the Western Harp. Zi Lan has also featured on Channel 4 and Australia television performing Chinese Dance.

Apart from doing performances, Zi Lan also delivers Chinese Culture workshops in music, dance, drama, calligraphy, paper cutting and paper folding. These are skills learned from her mother, Mrs. Li, when she was young. In 1995, Zi Lan developed and produced a ‘Chinese Culture and Arts Teaching Pack’ for key stage 1 – 3 school children.

In 2002, Zi Lan joined the PCYO and her role was to understudy Mr. Li, the Musical Director as well as to promote the Youth Orchestra. In 2006, Zi Lan became Arts Awards Adviser, mentored over 50 young people within the Youth Orchestra and Youth Clubs around Liverpool to achieve Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards. Recently the Explorer Arts Award has been introduced into the programme.

Zi Lan has also worked as project co-ordinator, since 1998, for 30 Hertz Ltd and 30 Hertz Records Ltd. Zi Lan raised over £100,000 for the Chinese Dub project. As well providing a major artistic input into this project, she managed over 20 artists from China and a number of   local musicians during a 10 day UK tour. The resulting album ‘Jah Wobble Chinese Dub’ won the Songline – (previously known as the BBC World Music Award) for the best Cross Culture Album 2009.

Since 2011, Zi Lan has took over the role as the Pagoda Arts Director, dedicated her time to run the centre providing wide services to the local communities from welfare to various Chinese culture activities.


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Hems Mews
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Exeter EX4 6AP


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