Chinese orchestra comes to BYU

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By Hayley Pingree

Jinghu, Dizi, Pipa, Guzheng, Erhu, Yangqin, Suona.

While many BYU students might consider these words strange, they are only a few of the ancient Chinese instruments that will be used by the Chinese Opera Orchestra of Shanghai on campus this week.

Conducted by Wang Yongji, the orchestra will perform for two days, starting Wednesday at the de Jong Concert Hall in the Harris Fine Arts Center. The orchestra will feature some of the finest musicians in Shanghai. According to a news release, the orchestra is a relatively new organization which hopes to preserve the traditional music of China, including folk music and various forms of Chinese opera. Ancient brass, winds and string instruments will accompany vocalists and perform opera overtures and famous Chinese opera pieces.

Jeff Martin, the producer of the performing art series at the HFAC, said he believes the Orchestra Opera of Shanghai coming to BYU will be a great experience, not only for BYU students, but for the musicians as well.

“I always like to have a world music component,” Martin said. “We have such a global focus on our campus. There’s a great interest in Asia, so this serves a lot of various needs. The musicians will interact with our music students and the humanities students and we’ll show them around campus. I think it will be good for them and for us.”

At their last performance at BYU on Thursday, elementary schools with Chinese language programs will be able to attend.

BYU humanities professor Francesca Lawson, an expert in ancient Chinese and Asian music, said she hopes the performance will enlighten the audience about Chinese music’s venerable history.

“The first thing to understand about Chinese music is that it is ancient, and some of the most fantastic ancient instruments that we have are from China,” Lawson said. “Music has always been important in Chinese culture.”

The orchestra will have additional performances at BYU-Idaho, Cedar City and St. George. According to Martin, the Chinese Opera Orchestra of Shanghai will be beneficial in more ways than just an enjoyable performance.

“We love to increase our exposure for the university and China, and gain respect for what we’re doing here in the Church,” Martin said. “I think the orchestra and our students will have a great experience.”

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