Chinese Music Ensemble’s Spring Concert

On Sunday, April 8th at 3:00PM the Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble will be showcasing its talents in Lang Concert Hall for their spring concert in a program shared with Gamelan Semara Santi. The Ensemble is co-directed by Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant and Wang Guowei, a world-renowned performer who comes down from New York to rehearse with the students.

The Chinese Music Ensemble will be playing five pieces, all personally arranged by Wang Guowei to suit each musician’s abilities while still creating a cohesive piece. Many are related to nature, including “Flower Drum Song,” “August Flowers in Bloom,” and “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon.” Another piece, “The Happy Farmer,” is quick and fast-paced, leading some members of the Ensemble to jokingly call it, “The Stressed Farmer.” To round out the repertoire, the Ensemble is bringing back “Three Folk Songs,” which, as the title indicates, is composed of three separate folk songs.

The Chinese Music Ensemble was established as an official performance ensemble for the first time last semester, drawing both seasoned musicians and beginners looking to learn something new. Students will play traditional Chinese instruments such as the guzheng (zither), erhu (bowed fiddle), hulusi (gourd flute), and yangqin (hammered dulcimer). Though many students used their knowledge of Western instruments – for example, the hulusi is similar to the clarient – they had to adjust to various changes such as the use of cipher notation, which assigns a number to each note rather than a letter.

After a successful fall concert, the Ensemble drew more new members, with only four returners, turning last semester’s beginners into teachers for their peers. Lesia Liao ‘18, who started playing the yangqin just last semester, will now be playing a solo in “The Happy Farmer.”

The performances of Gamelan and the Chinese Music Ensemble will transport audiences across the world to China and Indonesia. As the Chinese Music Ensemble continues introducing students to traditional Chinese music, their spring concert’s ambitious repertoire will enrapture audiences with their energy and rich, melodic sound.

Tiffany Wang ’21