Middle Tennessee State University’s Chinese Music Ensemble spread its musical and cultural diversity around the country with recent well-received performances.
The ensemble performed for a packed house at the Gloria Shott Performance Hall at the University of North Georgia-Dahlonega earlier this month. Under the direction of founder Mei Han, the ensemble’s program contained traditional, contemporary and cross-cultural compositions that drew a standing ovation, with MTSU Associate Vice Provost for International Affairs Rehab Ghazal also in attendance.
Han — an internationally acclaimed Chinese zheng performer and director of the ensemble and the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture — also gave lectures to six classes at UNG that ranged from music theory, music history, music education and Chinese language.
“The visit from Dr. Han and the MTSU Chinese Music Ensemble had a transformative impact on our students,” said Esther Morgan-Ellis, associate professor of music at UNG. “Between the lecture-demonstrations, the concert and the opportunity to play the Chinese instruments under the guidance of MTSU students, their eyes were opened to countless new sounds and ideas. We are going to be talking about this residency for a long time.”
Now in its eighth year, the Chinese Music Ensemble is a registered course the MTSU School of Music provides for a culturally diverse hands-on learning experience. Membership is open to all students, regardless of academic areas of study.
On Oct. 17, Chinese Music Ensemble member Will Childress of Knoxville, Tennessee, who is pursuing a master’s degree in musicology, and biochemistry student Amy Brown of Spring Hill, Tennessee, flew with Han to Washington, D.C., to perform at a special cultural event hosted by the Chinese Embassy to celebrate American students learning about the Chinese language and culture.
Han said their performance received high praise from the Chinese ambassador and the audience and was also attended by MTSU Vice Provost for International Affairs Robert Summers.
The ensemble also performed recently at the ’Boro International Festival, a multicultural celebration hosted by the Intercultural Awareness and Education Experience.
The MTSU Chinese Music Ensemble’s trip was part of a residency funded by a SouthArts Traditional Arts Touring Grant. The ultimate goal of the exchange is to provide a firsthand experience of music from a different culture, Han explained.
Located at MTSU’s Miller Education Center at 503 E. Bell St., the Center for Chinese Music and Culture strives to promote cultural diversity and mutual understanding through learning, scholarships and service opportunities.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)