Anjela Jui Lee with a gu-zheng. (courtsey of

An EarRelevant Interlude, #12: The Moon Is High

Mark Gresham | 15 AUG 2020

Number 12 in a series of audio and video presentations curated by EarRelevant’s publisher and principal writer Mark Gresham as part of his “Composer’s Notebook.” The series is currently focused on bringing you performances by notable musicians and events with strong musical connections to Atlanta.

Traditional Chinese: The Moon Is High (arr. Angela Jui Lee)

As recorded by gu-zheng master Angela Jui Lee on her album The Moon Is High (T’ang Drangon, TDR-002). ©2001, used by permission.

Gu-zheng master Angela Jui Lee was born in China, in the city of Xi’an. Her family lived in Taiwan for many years, and from there she emigrated to the United States in 1971. While still in Taiwan, she studied music as an apprentice to master gu-zheng artists Wei De-Liang and Li Ying. The gu-zheng is a large Chinese plucked zither with curved wooden body and movable bridges.

In the liner notes of her eponymous album, The Moon Is High, she writes about this traditional Chinese classical music from the Qing dynasty:

The earliest record of a written score for this melody was 1814, in Reference of Stringed Instruments, compiled by Rong Ji. It was originally written for performance by an ensemble, and later transcribed for pipa. The story, much older, is of the last T’ang emperor, who was infatuated with a young woman in his court. She met an unfortunate death. Afterwards he dreamed he flew to the moon to meet her, and there they promised each other eternal love.


Ms. Lee arrived in Atlanta in 1973. She was chosen ton be a featured performer for several events during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Her first CD, Heart;s Strings, was released in in 1998, followed in 2001 by The Moon Is High. She is also an accomplished calligrapher. ■

[Disclosure: The author and Angela Jui Lee co-authored a set of instructional books entitled “An Introduction to the Gu-zheng , published by Lux Nova Press in 2002 (Vols. 1 & 2) and 2004 (Vols. 3 & 4). He was also involved in production of the CD,The Moon Is High.]