Joint Concert by Peking University and Southern Utah University Successfully Conclude

On the evening of May 24, 2014, “Music and Salute to Yuanpei—Joint Concert by Peking University and Southern Utah University” was held in the Peking University Hall. As part of the 7th PKU Yuanpei Cultural Festival, the concert was hosted by PKU and SUU, organized by PKU’s Yuanpei College, and performed by PKU’s Chinese Music Institute and SUU’s College of Performing & Visual Arts. Over 2,000 administrative officials, faculty members, and students watched the performance, including Ye Jingyi, PKU Deputy Party Secretary, Li Xiaoming, Assistant to PKU President, and Zhang Xiaoli, Director of the United Front Work Department, PKU Party Committee.

Academician E Weinan started the concert with his opening speech. Young students from China and the US were invited by the Yuanpei College to promote international people-to-people exchanges and to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the China-US relations. The two movements performed at the concert were to honor Edgar & Helen Snow, who made remarkable contribution to the relations between the two countries, and Cai Yuanpei, former PKU president who first founded the Music Institute.

Canyon Concerto, featuring both Chinese and American musicians

The concert started amidst the beautiful melodies played by students from the Chinese Music Institute, China’s largest nonprofessional student music society. Its classic repertoire was played. Ancient China Rhapsody was composed by Li Bochan, resident composer, and Dr. Li Rongfeng (woodwind) from the School of Electronics Engineering & Computer Science, senior institute member. The music scores for Sand of Silk-Washing Brook and other lost music of the Song dynasty were restored with IT technologies, and performed by a modern orchestra. The performance was a perfect combination of science and art, and the past and the present. Such multidisciplinary approach was a wonderful celebration of Cai Yuanpei’s liberal and inclusive philosophy. The subsequent Five-Pitch Suite (Gong, Shang, Jue, Zhi, and Yu) was a large-scale folk orchestra masterpiece composed by Lu Lianghui, resident composer. The five-pitch tonal system was the essence of traditional Chinese culture. This five-piece suite presented a spontaneous flow of emotions: unbreakable sadness, gripping melancholy, explosive excitement… Those hauntingly beautiful melodies were never to be forgotten.

The Chinese music performance was followed by a speech by Shauna Mendini, Dean of SUU College of Performing & Visual Arts. She gave an overview of the cooperation between Chinese art groups and those from southern Utah, where Helen Foster Snow came from. Lynn Vartan, Dean of Department of Percussion and renowned percussionist, in conjunction with a quartet of percussion students, performed many classics, such as Blue Memories by Daniel Berg. Dr. Keith Bradshaw, Dean of Department of Music, composed Canyon Concerto for this concert. This piece was jointly performed by SUU’s faculty and students, and percussionists of the Chinese Music Institute. When the American musicians chanted the “river-crossing” melody in the Hunan dialect, the audience erupted in overwhelming applause.

Music and calligraphy

Chinese musician Sun Xun, SUU Director of Orchestral Activities and Chief Conductor, conducted the highlight of the evening. The Sounds of Han—Floating Clouds and Flowing Water by renowned composer Fu Jiangning was commissioned by and premiered at the concert. Its joint performance by the Chinese orchestra of the Chinese Music Institute and the SUU percussion ensemble constituted a brilliant commemoration of Cai Yuanpei by PKU’s latest generation. The performance was a perfect balance of loose and tight rhythms, and general atmosphere and subtle nuances. The audience was mesmerized by the soprano sheng’s (a reed pipe wind instrument) imitation of opera chanting, the largo narrated by the jing erhu (a Chinese two-stringed bowed musical instrument), and the passionate allegro. During the performance, Liao Tingjian, Extracurricular Mentor of the Yuanpei College and renowned calligrapher, completed a 12 m long scroll following the music. His flowing calligraphy was met with nonstop applause. Ye Jingyi received this gift, expressed her appreciation of the friendship between PKU and SUU, and thanked every artist for their splendid performance. Sun Hua, Party Secretary of Yuanpei College, gifted Shauna Mendini and seven other American friends with calligraphic works by the faculty and students of the college. Bi Minghui, Conductor of the Chinese orchestra, Chinese Music Institute, and Sun Xun gave the music scores for The Sounds of Han to Cai Leiluo from the PKU Graduate School of Education—Cai Yuanpei’s offspring—to continue Cai’s legacy.

Group photo