Bridge Builders: The Guo family - from busking to Hollywood to internet stardom

Bridge Builders: The Guo family - from busking to Hollywood to internet stardom


In this podcast, we meet the Guo family – presented by son and London-based vlogger Toto, who describes himself as "a child of two heritages&apos. His father Guo Yi grew up in a musical family in China and is a renowned sheng musician and his British mother Manda is a professional garden designer. As Toto says, "Yuanfen" or fate brought his parents together in the 1980s when Manda spotted Yi busking at South Kensington tube station. Despite obstacles arising from their vastly different cultures and backgrounds, love conquered all. During the pandemic, the Guo family launched a very successful YouTube channel, partly to document their own remarkable story and partly to bridge the gap between the two different cultures. 

Toto is incredibly proud of his mixed-heritage upbringing and has embraced both cultures wholeheartedly. He says that, as with all of us, there have been some challenges in his life, but that has made him more resilient and innovative.

However, his parents are not only from different cultures but very different life experiences. As a young child, his father Guo Yi&aposs playground was the haphazard maze of narrow old alleys in Beijing known as hutongs and he was incredibly inspired by the music in his home. Then, in the early 1970s, Guo Yi joined the prestigious Beijing Film Orchestra before then embarking on a new life in the UK and shortly afterwards, going on tour internationally with WOMAD. He also played the sheng for film soundtracks, such as David Puttnam&aposs "The Killing Fields" and "Apocalypto". However, it was meeting and falling in love with Toto&aposs mother, Manda, which was the real turning-point in his life – and then Toto&aposs arrival in 1992.

Series Producer: Elizabeth Mearns

Producer: Sarah Parfitt

Sound Editor: Terry Wilson

Bridge Builders Series Editor: Guo Chun

Heart UK