Silk Road Project: Yanzi (Swallow Song)

In this well-known Chinese folk song, Kazakh in origin, the singer addresses a girl named Yanzi (swallow), praising her bright eyes, graceful neck and long hair. “Please do not forget your promise and change your heart,” he sings. “I am yours, and you are my swallow.” Wu Tong, who studied the sheng (Chinese mouth organ) at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, also has a career as a rock vocalist. His former classmate, Zhou Lin, was moved to arrange “Yanzi” for voice and cello after hearing Wu Tong’s a capella rendition. Here he sings “Yanzi” with cellist Yo-Yo Ma during a Silk Road Ensemble concert. For more on the Silk Road Ensemble and the Silk Road Project, visit