|Now in its third year, the SRCO recently added this photo to its Facebook page, |
taken at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on MSU’s campus in fall, 2014.
Photo courtesy of SRCO, used with permission.
Although inspired by much older antecedents, this type of Chinese orchestra— set up in a Western format with a conductor, stage, and music stands— first appeared in China in the 1930s. These ensembles typically feature a mix of traditional Chinese and Western instruments: bowed strings, plucked strings, winds, and percussion. Compositions often highlight or contrast the different timbres of the various sections of instruments.
Shujing Xu has worked tirelessly to make the SRCO a success. She began her study of the liuqin at age four while attending a special school for the arts in Shanghai: the small size of the instrument was deemed especially suitable for a young girl. She continued to play and study. When her university career brought her to MSU, she thought, “Is there any Chinese orchestra here that I can play with?” Initially, she shared her musical artistry as a solo performer, first at a monthly meeting of MSU’s LATTICE (Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross-Cultural Education), and later at various cross-cultural events such as World Culture Day, Chinese Night, World Friendship Day, and the Greater Lansing United Nations Peace Day.
|Shujing (Andrea) Xu, founder of the SRCO at MSU, rehearses on her liuqin. |
During fall and spring semesters, the ensemble practices about eight hours weekly.
Photo by Laurie Kay Sommers, 2013
|SRCO conductor Shupeng Zhang with yangquin player Yaoting Xu, in rehearsal, 2013.|
Photo by Laurie Kay Sommers.
Hear Shujing Xu play an arrangement of “Li Xianglan” at the 2014 SRCO spring concert.
The piece is an instrumental version of the haunting song of lost love made famous by Hong Kong singer and actor, Jacky Cheung. It is a tribute to the late Yoshiko “Shirley” Yamaguchi (stage name Li Xianglan), a Chinese-born singer, actress, and politician of Japanese heritage who recently died at the age of 94. Video by Haochen Han, courtesy of SRCO.
This post was written by Laurie Sommers in conjunction iwth the Michigan Traditional Arts Program (MTAP). Field research with the SRCO in 2013-2014 was funded by a grant awarded to MTAP from the National Endowment for the Arts.