Concert to bridge Chinese, American music traditions

East will meet West when Melody of China performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, in SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre.

Melody of ChinaCelebrating its 20th anniversary in America, the ensemble was formed by enthusiastic musicians from some of the most prestigious music conservatories in China. Melody of China performs classical, folk and contemporary music, exploring the synergy between ancient traditions and youthful American culture.

Their concert in Oswego, the second event in the 2013-14 Artswego Performing Arts Series, calls special attention to a family of instruments that exists in different forms in cultures throughout the world—the yangqin, hammered dulcimer or cimbalom. The hammered dulcimer was very popular in New York in the 19th century, and is enjoying a strong national resurgence of interest, the troupe said.

During the concert, Melody of China will be joined for several numbers by popular folk artist Mitzie Collins and members of the Striking Strings Hammered Dulcimer Ensemble of the University of Rochester’s Eastman Community Music School.

Melody of China soloist Yangqin Zhao, prophetically named after the instrument she would win recognition for playing, has established herself as one of the foremost yangqin (Chinese dulcimer) performers in the world, the troupe said. She has been invited to perform in Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico and Germany, where she also has lectured at universities, conservatories and music schools.

Mitzie Collins is nationally recognized for her recordings of traditional American music, and for her virtuoso playing of the hammered dulcimer. She is an avid historian of the instrument in New York state, and a collector of historical New York dulcimers. 

“I am delighted that we have been invited to be a part of this evening,” Collins said. “I attended the Cimbalom World Association Congress in Beijing in 2005, and I am very excited about the opportunity to play with these outstanding Chinese musicians.”

Classical partners

Frequent guests on classical concert stages, Melody of China has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony, and collaborated with other performing artists such as the Alonzo King LINES ballet. Their newest recording features music by composer Gang Situ, and was supported by the Aaron Copland Recording grant program.

Striking Strings is one of the few dulcimer groups in the United States associated with a conservatory. The group, 15 at full strength, was founded five years ago and has quickly gained popularity throughout the region.

Tickets for the Melody of China concert cost $18 ($5 for students). Information, video and a link for ticket purchases are available at Tickets also may be purchased at any SUNY Oswego box office location, at or by calling 315-312-2141.

Patrons with disabilities needing assistance should call 312-2141 prior to the performance. Parking for this performance is included in the cost of tickets, and is available in the employee lots in front of and to the east of Culkin Hall, the administration building off the main SUNY Oswego entrance on State Route 104.

PHOTO CAPTION: Striking melodies—Chinese traditional instruments will blend with popular American folk music at SUNY Oswego when Melody of China appears with special guests Mitzie Collins and members of the Striking Strings Hammered Dulcimer Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, on the Waterman Theatre stage.

(Posted: Sep 03, 2013)

Tags: melody of china, artswego