Born in Baoji, Shaanxi, China, Qiu Xia He has had two distinguished careers in music: one as a performer and teacher in China, and a subsequent one as a performer, composer, producer and teacher in Canada.
The daughter of an arts-loving official and his wife, who moved to rural China as part of the Cultural Revolution, Qiu Xia was selected at age 5 to attend a special arts-oriented elementary school in her home town. At 13, she began her professional performing career as a member of the Baoji Song, Dance and Music Troupe, and at 19, she moved to Xian to attend the Xian Academy of Music — where she stayed on as a teacher after graduation
In 1989, Qiu Xia was chosen to perform with the Shaanxi Music and Dance Troupe, a special ensemble formed to tour Canada. While performing at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, she decided not to return home. It was there, surrounded by musicians from the West Coast and around the world, that the seeds of her extraordinary new musical vision were planted.
In the years since her arrival in Canada, Qiu Xia has launched a series of cross-cultural musical projects that have helped smash stereotypes about Chinese music and launch a vibrant multicultural music scene in Vancouver that thrives to this day. Starting in 1991, she toured the world with her own Juno-nominated ensemble, Silk Road Music, and with the Juno-nominated multicultural quartet Asza, which she co-founded with multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine Reusch, Uruguayan percussionist Pepe Danza and Brazilian guitarist Celso Machado — who was later replaced by French-Canadian flamenco guitarist and oud player Andre Thibault. In the early 90s, Qiu Xia also began performing school concerts with the Canadian folk group Ptarmigan and collaborating with Vancouver-born classical composer Mark Armanini, who was beginning to experiment with Asian instruments. In 1996, she traveled to the Czech Republic to perform with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra for the recording of Armanini’s CD, The Spirit Emerges. That year, she also performed Armanini’s compositions with the Glacier Symphony Orchestra in Montana. In addition, Qiu Xia founded the Enchanted Evenings concert series at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver; she was an artist in residence with the Vancouver School Board; and she served as a musician in the “Learning through the Arts” program of the Royal Conservatory of Canada. Her compositions include the soundtracks for the Leo-nominated films Tears of the Lotus and Darcy Island and for the movie In Our Own Hand.
As a member of Silk Road Music, Qiu Xia has earned a Juno nomination, two Canadian Folk Music Award nominations and two West Coast Music Awards. She has toured Canada, the US, and France, performing at major festivals such as Harbourfront, The Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Ottawa Folk Festival. She has also performed with the Vancouver and Victoria Symphonies and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. She was even featured on a BBC live concert broadcast in the U.K. As a member of Asza, Qiu Xia toured South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and North America. The band was the subject of two nationally-televised documentaries in Canada and a national prime-time TV Special in Vietnam. When Asza disbanded in 2001, Qiu Xia joined several former members in founding JouTou, another multicultural music ensemble, this time with a focus on French music from around the world. Ironically, it was with JouTou that Qiu Xia finally returned to China to perform for the first time as a Canadian — at the 50th Anniversary of the Guangzhou Business Association in 2006.
In addition to working with Silk Road, Asza and JouTou, Qiu Xia has performed in duo with Celso Machado, she was a member of the multicultural Latin ensemble Southern Cross and she was active in the Vancouver World Music Collective, who were the subject of a CBC Television Documentary.
She lives in Vancouver and is married to her Silk Road and Jou Tou band-mate Andre Thibault.
Visit the Media Resources page for images of Qiu Xia.
Silk Road Music gratefully acknowledges the support of