42 Strings is the collaboration between zheng player Muqi Li and korist Althea SullyCole, who are currently based in London. The pair met at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the fall of 2015.
“At this London University hub brimming with global musical talent, Muqi Li & Althea have bonded in complete harmony finding common ground over pentatonic scales and clashing keys, composing, synchronising, and ‘shwooping’!” – DJ Ritu, A World in London: https://www.mixcloud.com/SOASradio/awil-178/
Photo Credit: Alun Be
When Li and SullyCole began their collaboration, they never imagined it would lead to the discovery of a shared musical philosophy in their chance meeting. They grew up half a world apart—Li in Beijing and SullyCole in New York City—but their backgrounds are not as divergent as one might expect. They both come from multiracial families; Li is half Chinese and half Mongolian, while SullyCole is half African-American and half French-American. They both come from strong and varied musical backgrounds. In addition to her 12 years of zheng practice, Li has studied voice, piano, and koto—a sum of 26 years of musical study. In addition to 5 years of kora practice (half of which were spent Dakar, Senegal), SullyCole has studied voice, violin, piano and guitar—a sum of 20 years of musical study. They both arrived at SOAS in 2015, not only to hone their musical skills and engage with the diverse possibilities for collaboration with other musicians in London, but also to achieve a greater understanding of what it means to be a performing musician and composer in this increasingly globalizing world.