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MTSU receives $1M grant to open Chinese music cent...

MTSU receives $1M grant to open Chinese music center (+VIDEO)

Thanks to a $1 million grant, the latest expansion of Middle Tennessee State University’s relationship with Chinese educators is music to their ears.

Amid the sound of traditional Chinese music and the sipping of three types of tea Tuesday, March 24, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee announced receipt of the grant for the creation of a Chinese music and cultural center on university property.

The funding is provided by Hanban Confucius Institute in Beijing, an organization sponsored by China’s education ministry that oversees more than 440 institutes in 120 countries.

At left, Guanping Zheng, director of the MTSU Confucius Institute, unveils a guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument, donated by Hangzhou Normal University in China to MTSU's new Chinese Music and Cultural Center. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, far right, is joined by Hangzhou President Du Wei Tuesday inside the MTSU Student Union for the announcement of the new center. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Dr. Guanping Zheng, left, director of the MTSU Confucius Institute, unveils a guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument, donated by Hangzhou Normal University in China to MTSU’s new Chinese Music and Cultural Center. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, far right, is joined by Hangzhou President Du Wei Tuesday, March 24, inside the MTSU Student Union for the announcement of the new center. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“We will promote music as a vital element in education and cultural understanding,” said McPhee, “and it will become another component of our extremely successful international outreach, which has earned MTSU recognition as a leader in global studies.”

Confucius Institute logoDr. Du Wei, president of Hangzhou Normal University, MTSU’s sister institution, quoted the ancient Chinese sage Confucius when he remarked, “Education primarily starts from poetry and ends with music.”

Du said he has proposed creating a Chinese center of American studies at Hangzhou to McPhee and is prepared to begin discussions on that project immediately.

McPhee said that Du, himself a violinist, has been enthusiastic about the idea of a music center since the two men met in Beijing in December 2013.

The 3,200-square-foot center, which is expected to open within the next 12 to 18 months, will be located in the former Middle Tennessee Medical Center building on Bell Street, about six blocks west of campus.

Plans call for the facility to include a museum of traditional and modern Chinese instruments and musical materials.

The center also will showcase instruments from each of China’s national ethnicities. It will be the hub of a local and regional outreach program that will include performances in communities and area schools and a website with related resources.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, and Hangzhou Normal University President Du Wei pluck a few strings on a guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument, that was donated by Hangzhou Normal as the first instrument for MTSU's new Chinese Music and Cultural Center. MTSU and Chinese dignitaries announced the new center Tuesday at the MTSU Student Union. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, and Hangzhou Normal University President Du Wei pluck a few strings on a guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument, that was donated by Hangzhou Normal as the first instrument for MTSU’s new Chinese Music and Cultural Center. MTSU and Chinese dignitaries announced the new center March 24 at the MTSU Student Union. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU will hire an ethnomusicologist — an educator who studies music in the context of its culture — to serve as the center’s director. Under the College of Liberal Arts and its School of Music, courses involving Chinese music will be developed.

McPhee praised the contributions from MTSU’s Center for Popular Music and departments of Recording Industry and Electronic Media Communication in the College of Mass Communication for their assistance in developing the center’s concept.

McPhee said the center will “complement and expand” the cultural services now offered through MTSU’s Confucius Institute, which promotes understanding of Chinese language and culture and serves as a resource for businesses, universities and communities.

MTSU’s relationship with Hangzhou Normal University began in 2010 with the opening of the institute. In May 2014, representatives of the two schools announced a five-year, $500,000 extension of the relationship through 2020.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Hangzhou donated the new center’s first instrument, a guzheng. The 21-stringed instrument, which rests on legs much as a steel guitar does and is plucked by a seated musician, dates back to ancient times.

McPhee reciprocated by giving recordings performed and produced by MTSU faculty and students to Du and some of his university’s deans.

“I firmly believe if we learn from each other, there will be mutual understanding, the world will be more peaceful and happier and our young people will be more talented and powerful,” Du said.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Chinese tea was served before Tuesday's announcement by MTSU and Chinese dignitaries from Hangzhou Normal University that a new Chinese Music and Cultural Center will be opened at MTSU within the next 18 months. The announcement was made at the MTSU Student Union.

Students serve tea before the March 24 announcement by MTSU and Chinese dignitaries from Hangzhou Normal University that a new Chinese Music and Cultural Center will be opened at MTSU within the next 18 months. The announcement was made at the MTSU Student Union.

MTSU student Tianyi Wei plays the guzheng, a Chinese stringed instrument, before Tuesday's announcement.

MTSU student Tianyi Wei plays the guzheng, a Chinese stringed instrument, before the March 24 announcement.


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