Liaoning Normal University Musicians Perform Chinese Music Impressions

By Rachel Berry

Women in red dress singing on stageThe lights dimmed as the audience grew quiet. The audience filled the Souers Recital Hall, waiting expectantly for the show to begin. As the clock struck 7:30, the host came on stage, reading first and Chinese and then in English to welcome everyone there and to announce the first performers. All of the musicians are highly regarded professors at Liaoning Normal University in China, led by Professor Shihu Liu, the Dean of Music School.

Two artists stepped onto the stage wearing bright red dresses that flowed down to the ground. Fangyi Li, one of the artists, sang a rendition of “Jasmine,” a famous classical Chinese melody, while Jianan Yu accompanied her on the piano. Li’s emotion and passion for singing was evident through her performance, and when she hit the last note, the audience roared with applause.

Following her song, there was an ensemble performance with Yan Duan on the pi-pa, an instrument that the musician holds upright in her lap, almost like a smaller version of a cello. Xinxin Zhang playing a gu-zheng, which includes a flat wooden board overlaid with strings that the musician leans over and plucks, and Jing Sun playing the xiao, which resembles a large recorder.

a group plays with various musical instruments on stageLater in the night, Yan Duan returned to stage for a solo performance of “House of Flying Daggers.” The audience was moved by this heartfelt performance of one of the most famous pi-pa songs.

After this, Ailian Hong and Sisi Yang performed a Tai Chi dance. One of them held a black fan and the other a white one, and the fans rotated and covered their faces as they gracefully moved across the stage.

For the second-to-last performance, a large group of musicians stepped onto the stage. All of the instruments blended together for a fast-paced melody to accompany Han Gao’s vocal performance “Girl of Daban City” and a dance by Sisi Yang.

For the last performance of the night, an ensemble of five Chinese instruments took the stage to play “One Night in Beijing,” another famous Chinese song. After they finished, the audience cheered and gave a standing ovation.

a photo of a packed audience watching the show“It's really hard for me to listen to traditional Chinese folk music in the U.S.,” said Miami assistant accountancy professor and audience member James Zhang. “That's actually the first time I've heard a pi-pa in the past five years.”

Native-born Americans were also able to experience music in a different way and to catch a glimpse of the Chinese heritage.

Ricardo Averbach, Miami University’s director of orchestra, helped to organize the performance. He has a lot of experience with Chinese music and was one of the first westerners to perform the Beijing Peking Opera with western instruments.

“I think it was outstanding,” Averbach said. “There was a lot of variety; they showed the most famous Chinese instruments first separately then together,” he added about why he liked the show.

The audience members enjoyed the show, and many stayed afterwards to congratulate the musicians and ask them questions.