Kung Fu Cellist – What is Kung Fu?


Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre & Yelian He


‘A consummate master of the bow.’ The Strad magazine

‘Kung fu doesn’t mean fighting skills, kung fu means a skilled person; so you can find kung fu wherever you look – as long as you know how to look.’ Master Darryl Moy, Tse Qigong Centre

About the concert

Part meditation on kung fu, part cello spectacular, What Is Kung Fu? is an eye-opening glimpse into the parallel worlds of music and martial arts. Chinese-born artist Yelian He (aka the Kung Fu Cellist) knows firsthand the type of focus and discipline that’s required to endure the rigours of both kung fu training and cello. To master either artform takes more than physical prowess; it takes one’s entire character and being.

Performing hit after hit of expressive classical works for cello, Yelian traces his evolution from beginner to virtuoso. From the bold theatricality of Bukinik’s Etudes and Sibelius’s beautiful Theme & Variations through to Paganini’s notoriously difficult Caprice No.24, the program is every bit as thrilling as a martial arts sequence. Ignited by passionate melodies and jaw-dropping flourishes that will bring you to the edge of your seat, this recital is a knock-out.

The Spotlight Series is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Robert Salzer Foundation.

COVID Safety

Melbourne Recital Centre is committed to the safety of our artists, staff and patrons. As we reopen, a range of public health, hygiene and physical distancing measures will be in place. Click here to learn more.


Yelian He cello
Eric Wang cello


J.S. Bach
Cello Suite No.1 in G, BWV 1007

Mikhail Bukinik
Concert Etude No.4 in F minor

Jean Sibelius
Theme & variations in D minor for solo cello, JS196

Stuart Greenbaum
Lunar Orbit

Niccolò Paganini
Caprice No.24 in A minor, Op.1

Jean-Baptiste Barrière
Sonata No.4 in G for two cellos, Lv.4


This production is part of the following series: