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Chinese classics are music to his ears

By Mark Ray (China Daily)

14:22, March 28, 2013

Paolo Hooke finds plenty of local interest in Chinese culture. (China Daily)

Sydney has always had a large and active Chinese community, but in the past few years that presence has taken a major leap forward.

There are about 4.6 million people in greater Sydney and half a million are ethnic Chinese. That's one in nine.

Over the past 15 years, those local Chinese have turned the city's Spring Festival celebrations into a major cultural event, which now attracts 40,000 ethnic Chinese from various parts of South East Asia, and plenty of locals from all ethnic backgrounds as well.

There are now more Chinese tourists visiting Australia each year than people from any other nation, with the exception of neighbor New Zealand.

One person who has seen this huge increase in the Chinese presence here is journalism graduate Paolo Hooke.

Hooke works in Sydney as a public servant in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and once a month, as a volunteer, presents a radio show that features classical Chinese music.

Hooke's personal interest in China reflects the growing interest in Chinese things that is spreading across Australia. His curiosity was sparked during his undergraduate days at Sydney University when visiting Chinese students opened his eyes.

"I enjoy the evocative and exotic sounds of Chinese traditional instruments, particularly the erhu, pipa, yangqin and suona. "I especially like the blending of Chinese traditional instruments with Western instruments and the unique sounds that this creates."

Hooke has written magazine articles about this music and through his radio show has helped to promote various concerts in Sydney performed by visiting Chinese musicians.

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