Chi­nese mu­sic finds new foothold in United States

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Top News - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn erhu, pipa guzheng, Con­tact the writ­ers at panzhong­ming@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

New York’s Bard Col­lege Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic will teach an un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gram in Chi­nese mu­si­cal in­stru­ment per­for­mance start­ing next fall.

Bard will work with Bei­jing’s Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic to cre­ate the pro­gram, said to be the first of its kind at a Western col­lege.

Stu­dents will be able to ap­ply in Jan­uary for a first year that will fo­cus on the

and all stringed in­stru­ments.

Yu Feng, pres­i­dent of the Bei­jing school, signed a de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive for the pro­gram and other joint ef­forts with Robert Martin, di­rec­tor of the New York school, on Sunday in Bei­jing.

Martin, who is a cel­list, said he has been com­ing to China since the 1970s and had the idea of in­tro­duc­ing a Chi­nese in­stru­ment per­for­mance de­gree pro­gram at Bard two years ago.

“The goal is to cre­ate a com­pre­hen­sive and ef­fec­tive plat­form for Chi­nese mu­sic in the United States,” he said. “I be­lieve our part­ner­ship is what diplo­mats call a win-win sit­u­a­tion.”

Yu hailed the project as a “trail­blaz­ing step” for Chi­nese mu­sic world­wide that would cre­ate a new chan­nel for cul­tural ex­change between the two coun­tries.

“Tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture is the ba­sis of Chi­nese mu­sic and Chi­nese in­stru­ments,” Yu said. “We will also in­tro­duce les­sons such as cal­lig­ra­phy, tra­di­tional Chi­nese opera and Chi­nese poetry to our stu­dents.”

In a video played for the an­nounce­ment cer­e­mony, Leon Bot­stein, pres­i­dent of Bard, said: “There has been much de­vel­op­ment re­gard­ing the ab­sorp­tion of the teach­ing of Western in­stru­ments and Western mu­sic. This needs to be bal­anced by the in­tro­duc­tion of the great tra­di­tion of Chi­nese mu­sic and Chi­nese in­stru­ments to Western mu­si­cians, in­spir­ing young mu­si­cians of the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Bard, a pri­vate lib­eral arts col­lege founded in 1860, launched its mu­sic con­ser­va­tory in 2005. The new pro­gram will build on its ex­ist­ing fiveyear mu­sic and lib­eral arts and sci­ence pro­gram to com­bine the pro­fes­sional study of tra­di­tional Chi­nese in­stru­ments with a Western-style lib­eral arts ed­u­ca­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Yu, three pro­fes­sors from the Bei­jing school will be­come pri­mary fac­ulty mem­bers.

Out­side the pro­gram, the ini­tia­tive will also launch an an­nual Chi­nese mu­sic fes­ti­val at Bard and an an­nual sum­mer school for high school stu­dents. Both will fo­cus on mu­sic from con­tem­po­rary China. Sem­i­nars and schol­arly con­fer­ences on Chi­nese mu­sic, art and social de­vel­op­ment will also be held in the US and China on al­ter­nate years.

Chi­nese con­duc­tor Cai Jin­dong will chair the com­mit­tee over­see­ing the ini­tia­tive. Cai, who was born in Bei­jing and stud­ied vi­o­lin and pi­ano, went to the US in 1985 and joined the Stan­ford Univer­sity fac­ulty as pro­fes­sor in 2004. He has been guest con­duc­tor of ma­jor sym­phony or­ches­tras in both China and the US.

“I have been work­ing and liv­ing in the US for more than 30 years, and to me this pro­gram is like a dream come true,” he said.

He noted that the de­vel­op­ment of Western mu­sic in China has a very long his­tory, start­ing with Mat­teo Ricci (1552-1610), the Ital­ian be­lieved to have been the first Je­suit priest to en­ter Bei­jing. Ricci gave a clavi­chord to Em­peror Wanli of the Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) in 1601.

“Chi­nese mu­sic never re­ally de­vel­oped in the West,” Cai said. “We be­lieve this pro­gram will make changes in the long run.”

MA GUOHUI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents from the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic per­form at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on Sunday. New York’s Bard Col­lege Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic will work with the col­lege to cre­ate an un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gram in Chi­nese mu­si­cal in­stru­ment per­for­mance.

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