SINGAPORE - China's First Lady Peng Liyuan, who accompanied her husband President Xi Jinping on a state visit to Singapore last week, had a reunion with some local musicians here.
According to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Ms Peng, 52, was apparently missing from the public eye for a few hours on Nov 7, the second day of the two-day visit.
While Mr Xi was attending two official functions that Saturday morning - the opening of the China Cultural Centre and the 36th Singapore Lecture at the National University of Singapore - Ms Peng was at a private gathering with some members of the Chinese Ethnic Musical Arts Ensemble. The group had performed with the former folk singer when she came to Singapore for her first performance 28 years ago.
The reunion, which lasted 40 minutes, was held at the St Regis Hotel where she and Mr Xi were staying, Zaobao said.
In 1987, in an arrangement made by the late Singapore tenor Tan Buck Siak, Ms Peng, then 24 and a budding singer, together with four other youth singers from China Central Television performed a vocal recital at the Singapore Conference Hall from May 15 to 17. Ms Peng had just won a national youth singing contest in China.
Tickets to the three performances were sold out as it was the first time in many years when singers from China were invited to perform in Singapore, the report said.
According to Zaobao, the Chinese embassy in Singapore began contacting the ensemble about two months ago and told its members about the opportunity to meet Ms Peng. The members were told that it would be a private gathering and not to inform the media or publicise about it.
Ms Peng met 13 of them at the hotel's meeting room at about 10am on Nov 7 and shook hands with every one of them.
She said in her opening remarks that she would never forget the warm reception she received 28 years ago.
Mr Hong Nan Cheng, the conductor of the ensemble, thanked her on behalf of the group in setting aside time to meet them.
Ms Peng then took a group photo with the members, and gave everyone a special compilation of Chinese folk songs performed by her, which included two DVDs, her photo and her signature. The group presented her a photo collection of the recitals taken in 1987.
Mr Jason Lee, who played the zhonghu, a string instrument, told Zaobao that the group booked a place at the Foochow Association for rehearsals in 1987, and Ms Peng rehearsed with the members several times.
He described Ms Peng's voice as "stunning", "flawless", "sturdy" and "healthy".
"I've never heard such a beautiful singing voice," he said.