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Chinese concert to take grand stage in Chicago

By JIAN PING in Chicago | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-07 11:03

The excitement of staging a Chinese concert at the world-renowned Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park was palpable among the community leaders and organizers at a recent press conference at the Chinatown Library in Chicago.

The concert, titled Friendship Lasts Forever Great Lakes Music Festival will take place on Sept 17.

"I always have had a strong desire to stage a large Chinese concert in Chicago," said Jianyun Meng, director of the Confucius Institute at Valparaiso University in Indiana. "To have the concert at Pritzker Pavilion is a dream come true."

Meng proposed the idea of a major music festival to other community leaders in the greater Chicago area late last year and soon gained the support from several organizations, including the Dongfang Chinese Performing Arts Association, the Confucius Institute in Chicago and the Asian Culture Center.

The Windiana Concert Band in Indiana also helped to produce the concert, with its music director, Jeffery Doebler, serving as the American music director for the September concert.

Doebler also works as professor of music and director of music education and bands at Valparaiso.

"The Friendship Lasts Forever concert is a great example of musical education in action and a model for international harmony and world peace," said Doebler.

Doebler is no stranger to China or Chinese music. He has been to China 12 times, teaching music and conducting performing tours across China at schools and universities.

Hong Lei, Chinese consul general in Chicago, who was present at the conference, stated the music festival would be "one of the major Chinese cultural events for the year" in the Midwest.

"With nearly 1,000 performers on stage, the scale of this concert is unprecedented," Hong said.

The Pritzker Pavilion, with a seating capacity of 11,000, has hosted a variety of musical and performing arts events since opening in 2004 and is one of the most popular venues in Chicago.

Shanker Roman, assistant provost for international affairs at Valparaiso University, called the concert "a historical event".

Roman mentioned China's Belt and Road Initiative, referring to its endeavors in bridging different cultures via language and music as "One Word One Note."

Michael Boo, an American composer who has adapted more than 40 Chinese songs for American bands to play before, said the concert, by featuring Chinese-themed music from China, the US and other countries, "will prove to the world that we are all one".

Boo said music is "the nuts and bolts" that holds the world together. He said there is something about Chinese music that speaks to him.

He will adapt more Chinese music for American bands to play at the upcoming concert.

Jan Zheng, president of the Chicago Dongfang Chinese Performing Arts Association, said that within the first week of announcing the concert, performing groups and organizations from five Midwestern states have asked to participate.

The tremendous enthusiasm and interest indicated that many more would join, Zheng anticipated.

Jane Lu, director of the Confucius Institute in Chicago (CIC), said that CIC partners with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which offers the largest Chinese-language program in North America.

She is looking forward to have CPS high school bands and students performing on the stage — "an experience that help the students to compete and succeed in the 21st century".

Doebler said his Windiana Concert Band and the Chamber Concert Band of Valparaiso University themselves will bring a repertoire of eight pieces to the concert, with highlights that conclude with Festive in Village from China and Fugue on Yankee Doodle by John Philip Sousa.

"The concert will conclude with two selections performed by all 800 of the festival's participants," Doebler said.

One is the famous Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower and the theme song, Friendship Lasts Forever.

For China Daily


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