British local time 5th – 12th September 2012, during the visit to Edinburgh alongside with university leaders, Peking University Chinese Music Institute (PKUCMI) successfully held the concerts series The Sound from PKUCMI: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Chamber Music Concert and The Sound of China: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Orchestral Music Concert in Edinburgh, Scotland. The concerts have contributed to the spread of Chinese music in Britain and set off a trend of learning and appreciating Chinese music, which gained warm welcome of local government and University of Edinburgh (UoE), meanwhile raised a general attention of local media. The event is jointly sponsored by University of Edinburgh, Tapestry Partnership, and Peking University, organized by Confucius Institute for Scotland in University of Edinburgh, Reid Conservatory University of Edinburgh, Peking University International Cooperation Department, and Peking University Student Affairs Department, and performed by Reid Conservatory and PKUCMI.
As an important part of this visit, PKUCMI has successively held two concerts, namely The Sound from PKUCMI: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Chamber Music Concert and The Sound of China: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Orchestral Music Concert on nights of September 10th and 11th of local time in Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh and Canongate Kirk respectively. The success of the concerts were witnessed by celebrities including Sir Timothy Oshea the president of University of Edinburgh, Prof. Steven Hillier the vice-president of the university, Mr. Keir Bloomer the president of Tapestry Partnership, Prof. Natascha Gentz the president of the Confucius Institute, Prof. Peter Nilsen the dean of Department of Music of UoE, Prof. Nigel Osborne from Department of Music of UoE, Mr. Ruiyou Li the Consul General of China in Edinburgh, Yang Shen the Education Counsellor of Chinese Embassy in Britain, Ms. Ruqing Zheng the vice director of Peking University International Cooperation Department, Mr. Minghui Bi the vice director of Peking University Student Affair Department, and representatives of Peking University alumni and people in Edinburgh of all circles.
During The Sound from PKUCMI: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Chamber Music Concert, Prof. Nigel Osborne, professor of Department of Music in UoE and advisor of PKUCMI, delivered the opening prologue on behalf of hosts. In his enthusiastic and wonderful speech, the audience can feel not only the sincere welcome and appreciation from the hosts, but also the respect to the achievements gained by Peking University as the highest institution in China in the field of nurturing elite talents and promoting students’ all-round development through practice. All audience broke into applause and admiration on hearing that PKUCMI is only a nonprofessional association but shares a remarkable level of performing and teamwork purely due to their interest in music.
The Sound from PKUCMI: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Chamber Music Concert, which coincidentally held on the Teachers Day in China, was started with the Chinese flute solo Delightful Encounter, followed by a Zheng solo, duo Nostalgia, trio Sketches of the Moonlight, quartet Waterscape Silhouette, ensemble Sounds of the Southwest, ensemble Bells on the Silk Road, etc. In harmony with the vivid video images, the pieces have fully interpreted the fascinating allure of Chinese music instruments. The last piece, piano concerto with Chinese orchestra Immersion – Autumn of Peking University, drove the concert to its climax with a poetic first-chapter and an ardent second-chapter, leaving the audience in Edinburgh with a warm and pleasant mood of Peking University. The concerto is composed specially for this event as the world premiere by Mr. Dongqing Fang, the resident composer of PKUCMI, and presented to Peking University.
The Sound of China: Peking University Chinese Music Institute Orchestral Music Concert, a magnificent and inspiring concert consisted of orchestral works, has fully shown the youth elegance of the Chinese orchestra of PKUCMI. All the pieces, including the majestic Festival Overture, the soul- stirring Capriccio, the tear-jerking Childhood Memories, and the Chinese music suite Gong, Shang, Jue, Zhi, Yu, have won continuous applause of the audience. The commission work Gu Feng Fantasia by resident composer Bochan Li, which took its world premiere, vividly manifested the spirit of Peking University characterized by the communion of science and arts as well as the interdisciplinary complements. One thing to point out about this piece is that its themes are all inspired by ancient music scores dated back to Song Dynasty. The rare music materials are achievements of the doctoral project “Machine Translation of Ancient Chinese Music Scores” by computer major graduate and Chinese flute performer Rongfeng Li. The piece started with the resonant sound of Di, Xiao and Pipa, which impressed the audience with sharp contrasts.
Dean of Department of Music, University of Edinburgh pointed, “The activeness of arts creation is an important standard to evaluate the education level of a university. We feel much honored to have President Zhou’s chemistry song for International Year of Chemistry 2011 and his songs for his mother translated and presented the world premiere of the English version.” It is another dazzling highlight of the concert that the performance was combined with an orchestra of more than 70 musicians of the PKUCMI, a treble choir with nearly a hundred students of primary or secondary schools in Scotland, famous British soprano singer Laura, and a traditional Scottish band, which were all under the conduction by Prof. Nigel Osborne and Dr. Minghui Bi.
Sir Timothy Oshea, chancellor of University of Edinburgh, has highly praised the performance of young students from Peking University. He fully affirmed the friendship between the two universities. Though it is a pity that Mr. Zhou could not attend the concert due to a bad weather, he pointed out that young students from PKUCMI had given him a view of the education concept of Peking University. Moreover, he believed that the concert would definitely become a milestone of good relationship between the two schools. Mr. Ruiyou Li, the Consulate General of China in Edinburgh, spoke highly of the versatility of the non-musical major students in Peking University and fully affirmed the significance of this activity in the process of cultural exchange in form of music.
Dr. Minghui Bi conveyed the greetings and appreciation from President Zhou to the organizers and audience in the warm applause. Throughout his humorous introduction, the audience realized the subtle wit of the logo combining Edinburgh and Chinese characters ZHONG YUE (abbreviation for CMI). After a warm applause and cheers, the concert came to the encore Rhapsody Based on Theme of Dai Nationality. Similar to the opening, the concert reached a successful period in the sound of traditional Scottish bagpipes military band.
As an affiliated content to the world renowned Edinburgh International Festival, the concert gave a deep interpretation of the comprehensive development spirit of Peking University. What have been conveyed by PKUCMI are not only the versatility of PKU students, but also the succession and promotion of profound Chinese culture, as well as the outstanding achievement of the education in PKU. Young students have developed their friendship and cooperation in teamwork as well as fulfilled their personal interests in the activity.
Besides, to enhance the communication and cooperation between China and England, Peking University and Edinburgh University, PKUCMI gave several small concerts conducted by Dr. Minghui Bi during the visit, which included the concerts held in local primary and high schools such as Irvine Royal Academy、Annanhill Primary School、Grange Academy Park School，St.Aidan’s High School and Hamilton Grammar School which were contained in the Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme, as well as the outdoors concert held at Chinese Garden in the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.
Taking part in the Silk Road programme
On September 6th, after landing in Edinburgh, PKUCMI began its two-day visit to local schools as part of the Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme, under the leadership of Dr. Minghui Bi, Vice Director of the Student Affairs Department of Peking University and Director of PKUCMI. Under the invitation of the University of Edinburgh, the visits by PKUCMI were warmly received by the local schools. The principals of the schools, including St. Aidan’s High School etc., personally welcomed the orchestra, and stated their gratitude towards the students of PKUCMI for their selfless contributions. This cultural exchange project was closely followed by the English mainstream media, and received numerous positive feedbacks.
During the two-day visit, the 70-strong orchestra divided into two groups and went to different regions in Edinburgh. While at the schools, including the Irvine Royal Academy, Annanhill Primary School, Grange Academy Park School and St. Aidan’s High School, the orchestra was welcomed by the traditional bagpipes orchestra. Through their interactions with the local students, students from PKUCMI both introduced and performed the Chinese musical instruments including the Erhu, Pipa, Yangqin and Dizi etc, receiving warmly applause.
To further collaborate with the Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme, and to display the profundity of traditional Chinese culture, students from PKUCMI specially designed mini-concerts for the local schools. Through the performance of many pieces, which incorporated both orchestra and chamber works, as well as traditional and modern styles, including Yu Diao, Rhapsody based on the theme of Dai Nationality, Radiant with Joy and Happiness, Sketch of the Waterside Village, Sketches of the Moonlight and Racing Horses etc, they showed the aesthetic concepts of Chinese arts, like “generating vitality through harmony” and “generating difference through harmony”.
The Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme is guided by Professor Nigel Osborne, professor of University of Edinburgh and world-renowned musician. It is an education and research project that is supported by The Tapestry Partnership and the Confucius Institute for Scotland. The aim of the project is to achieve breakthroughs in the traditional music teaching methodologies in the primary and secondary schools in Scotland, incorporate more global and diverse perspectives, and bring music from all over the world, including Chinese music, into the schools of Scotland. In the first two years since the start of the project, almost all of the primary and secondary schools in Scotland benefited, and many students began learning musical knowledge that is not a part of systematic traditional Western music. The openness and creativity displayed by this project allowed students to view themselves as citizens of the world, which is one of its important contributions.
The Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme is geographically based on the historically famous Silk Road. With China as its cultural starting point, it links up the countries in Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and the Mediterranean world, and ends in England. The music of all these countries is included in the project and the music education of Scotland. As the starting point of the project, Chinese music plays an extremely important role. Many cultural samples that are based on Chinese music, including the famous Chinese folk tune Jasmine Flower and traditional Chinese Percussion piece Ya Zi Ban Zui, as well as the symbol of Chinese culture –– the dragon totem, and the famous story Qian Zhi Lv, have all been systematically included into the teaching materials of the project, which are used all over Scotland.
Taking part in the Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme, PKUCMI refreshed the way Chinese culture spreads all over the world. On the one hand, instead of professional musicians, students took the responsibility to spread Chinese culture as volunteers, which brought about an impressive effect. On the other hand, based on student societies, it was a great supplement to the way of spreading Chinese culture to take advantage of general people. By attending school classes, students from Chinese Music Institute got closer to foreign students. They presented Chinese musical instruments, introduced Chinese music and culture, and taught foreign students to play and feel. It revealed Peking University students’ sense of responsibility to spread culture, and their leading position in popularizing Chinese culture all around the world.
Moreover, attending the service programme fulfilled and refreshed the concept “practice nurtures a person” which has been long proposed by Peking University. As the major part of the “Secondary Class”, student society activities serve as the most direct and effective way of practicing the concept. Involving the music education in England which possesses the leading position in the world, this activity broadened the area Peking University applied the concept to. Containing students from different majors, PKUCMI explores the diverse application of the concept “practice nurtures a person” following an interdisciplinary way of thinking. Taking advantage of the spare time to participate in such kind of grand international culture and art practical activity helps to enhance students’ social competence and capability, which can be a new start for Peking University to develop the concept “practice nurtures a person”.
Excellent outdoors concert in Edinburgh England
On 10th September, which happened to be China’s Teacher’s Day, PKUCMI, under the invitation of University of Edinburgh, visited the world renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Chinese Garden and successfully held its outdoors concert. The outstanding performance and introduction by the students of Peking University received much attention from the English press and attracted and received applause from many visitors.
The Chinese Garden holds many precious Chinese plants. The Chinese Pavilion, being the most significant Chinese cultural icon, is found by the side of the river, with patches of greenery surrounding it. With the Chinese Garden as background, students of PKUCMI showcased their talents, playing Chinese music of different styles on their Chinese traditional instruments, such as the erhu, pipa, dizi, etc..
This outdoors concert and interaction received much attention from the media, including BBC Scotland, The Herald, Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News, Press Association, Daily Record, and Freelanc. A reporter from BBC Scotland conducted interviews with Director of PKUCMI, Dr. Minghui Bi, PKUCMI’s Artistic Advisor and Professor at the Music Department of University of Edinburgh, Nigel Osborne, as well as the Leader of Protocol Supervisory Board of PKUCMI, Ziwei Duan (Erhu), Leader of Performance Supervisory Board of PKUCMI, Xinyun Zhang (Pipa and Percussion).
In an interview with a BBC reporter, Dr Minghui Bi said that this was the first time PKUCMI was visiting England. The institute hoped to present Chinese music pieces which incorporate traditional and modern style, chamber and orchestral works to the western audience through two concerts, namely “the Sound from PKUCMI” and “the Sound of China”. He also hoped to strengthen ties between Peking University and University of Edinburgh through the spreading of music, creating new starting points for a stronger friendship between the two schools. Dr Bi was also elated to see that such voluntary activities have developed a sense of social responsibility in students. He also expressed that through the participation in the spreading of Chinese culture using music, students have achieved the aim of developing themselves and serving the society, successfully displaying the spirit of Peking University.
Professor Nigel Osborne has also affirmed the value of this exchange with PKUCMI. He firmly believes that PKUCMI’s visit to England is a brand new historical moment, be it in its participation in the the Silk Road music/interdisciplinary programme, or its multi-dimensional and multi-level promotion of Chinese music. He looks forward to PKUCMI’s chamber music concert as well as its orchestral music concert, and is confident in the new musical exchanges the two schools will have in future.
Under the request of the English reporters, PKUCMI’s members, Ziwei Duan and Xinyun Zhang, gave demonstrations on two ancient Chinese instruments – Erhu and Pipa. Then they introduced in detail the cultural significance of these Chinese instruments. Through the interview, the reporter learnt that Peking University does not offer major in music, and was surprised that Peking University was able to produce highly diverse students with such outstanding performance capabilities. Representing the student body, the two students expressed that this opportunity to visit Edinburgh, where they are allowed the chance to present Chinese music, broaden their academic horizons, promote the spirit of Peking University and develop self confidence, was hard to come by. They would certainly cherish the chance given to them by the school administration and hoped to bring glory to school. They would also like to present a Teacher’s Day gift to all teachers through their music.