Traditional Chinese folk concert brings unique music and culture to CSU

One day after their performance at the Lincoln Center, students from the Southwest University of China performed at the Oan Recital Hall in the University Center for the Arts on Sunday afternoon. CSU students and Fort Collins community members crowded into the non-ticketed event to see the unique performances and accompanying culture. The group presented fourteen different musical acts that showcased various instruments from Chinese arts, information for which was presented on a large screen onstage.

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Li Ke (Violin), Wang Hong, and Chen Ruoxo (Piano) performing during An Afternoon of Traditonal Chinese Folk Music.

The Folk Music Group performed at the very beginning and very end of the concert. Each of their pieces, “Busy Transport of Grains on Horsebacks” and “The Great Joy,” blended an array of instruments for a lively and fast-paced musical experience. The equally shrill and calming timbre of Chinese instruments provided a new sound that most of the audience had never heard before. The performances featured each student on their respective instrument, allowing the audience to hear the diverse sounds of both wind and strong instruments.

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The group then split up for an arrangement of solos, duets and small group performances. Instruments such as the dizi, a Chinese flute dating back more than 4,500 years, the yangqin, a hammered dulcimer performed at the UCA both solo and in groups, the suona, a double-reeded horn, and the pipa, a complex string instrument with 30 frets showcased traditional Chinese folk music. Some of the acts portrayed a melancholy mood with slow pieces in minor keys while others kept a lively pace with flying notes. Each of the performers demonstrated extremely high skills, making impossibly complex pieces seem effortless. While many of the performances depicted serious tones with a focus on musical skill, and others brought comedy and amusement along with them.

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Xie Ying performing High Mountain and Flowing water for the Guzheng instrument solo during An Afternoon of Traditional Chinese music.

“Picking Jujubes,” performed by Chen Li, combined playing the suona with whistling and frantically switching from one instrument to another. Even the more “amusing” acts still showed a remarkable level of deftness in the musicians.

The concert also featured two solo soprano singers and a trio of tenor singers, all of whom were accompanied by Chen Ruoxu on piano. Each performer or group brought a different element to their piece, including gestures, small props and extravagant outfits. The extraordinary vocal range of the singers paired with their precise yet expressive performance styles communicated the strong emotions written into the music. The vocal acts ranged from slow and peaceful to lively tunes reminiscent of western opera.

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Xue Yedan (Soprano) and Chen Ruoxu (Piano) performing My Hometown is Beijing during An Afternoon of Traditional Folk Music.
Before the final piece of the concert, Director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Dan Goble presented two of the group’s professors with the official titles of Professors of Music at Colorado State University. In addition to providing the UCA with a unique performance, the concert celebrated the partnership between CSU and the Southwest University of China. The students from China even invited the audience to visit them in China.

The concert gave a new perspective to both the performers and the audience members and graced the UCA with a unique experience.