Yale-China Music Exchange (YUE)

Yale-China Music Exchange (YUE)

The Yale-China Music Exchange conducted performance and outreach tours to several Chinese cities in the summers of 2007 and 2008.

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The Yale-China Music Exchange (YUE) was an initiative of the Yale-China Association that aimed to bring great music to communities in the heartland of China through the joint efforts of young Chinese and American musicians. In the same spirit that has pervaded the educational, cultural and medical work of Yale-China for over a century, YUE was dedicated to bringing individuals together and fostering dialogue and friendship through music. In particular, YUE sought to promote long-term collaborative relationships between Chinese and American musicians.

YUE (or 乐, meaning music) brought together eight Yale alumni musicians with their Chinese counterparts for a series of concerts to be held in Changsha, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the town of Xiuning in Anhui province from June 10-24, 2007.

Conceived and organized by Yale graduates Courtney Cox ’06 and Perry So ’04, YUE collaborated with the Fudan University Symphony Orchestra in Shanghai and the Hong Kong Children’s Symphony Orchestra to give two orchestral concerts at the beginning and the end of the exchange, respectively. The YUE musicians also visited Yali Middle School in Changsha, Hunan province, and Xiuning Middle School in Anhui province to give concerts for students and members of the local community, and to conduct workshops and demonstrations. Both schools are part of the Yale-China Association’s English Teaching Fellowship Program.

YUE Music Exchange Concert Schedule:
6/13 7:30pm Chamber Concert at the United States Consulate, Shanghai
6/15 8:00pm Orchestral Concert with Fudan University Symphony Orchestra Fudan University, Shanghai
6/16 7:30pm Chamber Concert in Xiuning, Anhui
6/19 7:30pm Concert with Yali Middle School Orchestra Hunan University, Changsha, Hunan
6/23 2:00pm Concert with Hong Kong Children's Symphony Orchestra, St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong. Suggested donation at the door adults HK$150, students HK$75, (given in benefit of the Mission for Migrant Workers, Bethune House, and Helpers for Domestic Helpers)

Workshops & Outreach
6/12-14 Outreach concerts at local Shanghai migrant schools
6/16-17 Workshops at Xiuning Middle School in Xiuning, Anhui
6/18-6/19 Workshops at Yali Middle School in Changsha, Hunan
6/20-6/22 Workshops with Hong Kong Children's Symphony Orchestra


The Yale-China Music Exchange 2008 took place between June 14 and June 30. Rehearsals took place in Changsha, Hunan Province, followed by a 9-day performance tour through China.

YUE celebrated its second season this June, bringing together 28 musicians from both sides of the Pacific to form a new ensemble before performing eight concerts for nearly 2000 audience members over the course of two weeks in Changsha, Hunan province, Huangshan, Anhui province, and Shanghai. Performance highlights included appearances at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hongcun, Anhui Province; the historic Tianhan Theatre in Changsha; and the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai.

Continuing in its mission to foster cross-cultural collaboration through music, the Yale-China Music Exchange 2008 began in Changsha, Hunan Province, with an intense week of chamber and orchestral rehearsals led by Music Director Perry So (Yale Class of 2004). Musicians from outstanding universities and conservatories of both nations overcame linguistic and cultural barriers to form a variety of chamber groups, and the YUE flagship orchestra, the Yale-China Ensemble (雅礼中美乐团). Programming, centered around Prokofiev Symphony No. 1 and Beethoven Symphony No. 4, also featured a variety of modern music from North and South America, including the world premiere of "Coercing the Storm" by American musician and YUE percussionist Christopher Bonacorsa.

In continued partnership with Hunan University, YUE opened the 2008 season at the Hunan University Grand Auditorium with a warmly received chamber concert on June 17, forming a part of the university's weeklong commencement activities in the 30th anniversary year of its resumption of activities after reform and opening. Two days later, on June 19, the Yale-China Ensemble presented its first orchestral concert at the historic Tianhan Theatre. In keeping with YUE's commitment to music for all, tickets were provided free of charge to students from Yale-China programs at Hunan University, Xiangya Medical School, and Yali Middle School, as well as to members of the local community. YUE was particularly honored to have United Front Chair Deng Wen Hua open the concert, welcoming the Yale-China Ensemble and expressing high hopes for continued Sino-American musical exchange in Changsha through YUE.

Applause still ringing in their ears, the musicians boarded a bus bound for Xiuning, a rural town near Huangshan in Anhui Province. On June 21, YUE was proud to present its first educational workshop on percussion and rhythm to an excited group of local children ages 5-7. Learning about rhythm and tempo, students were invited to play, snap, and clap along – some on YUE instruments! – in a flute and percussion duet with principle flutist Alice Jones (YC'05). Later that evening, members of the Yale-China Ensemble performed its second annual chamber concert for the community of Xiuning, with guest performances by local guzheng players.

On Sunday, June 22, the Vice-Mayor Ye Chang Yin and the Cultural Bureau of Huangshan invited YUE to perform two orchestral concerts in the Huangshan municipality: a morning performance at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hongcun, and an evening performance at the Huangshan International Hotel. Musicians were awed by the beauty of the ancient village of Hongcun, and the engineering of a floating stage for their performance on the iconic South Lake. Local authorities arranged a tour of Hongcun and neighboring UNESCO site Xidi for the musicians, providing an opportunity to learn about the local culture and history. Before the evening performance, five members of the Yale-China Ensemble, including Music Director Perry So and Executive Director Courtney Cox (YC'06) were honored by a meeting with the Vice-Mayor and officials from the Cultural Bureau of Huangshan.

YUE returned to Shanghai during the week of June 23rd. United States Consul General Kenneth Jarrett again graciously opened to doors of the U.S. Consulate General for a much-anticipated chamber music performance. Overcoming obstacles presented by last-minute venue changes, YUE also presented programs at the Xujiahui District Cultural Center and the Golden Dragon Banquet Hall, featuring performances by two young pianists from the Shanghai Conservatory Middle School.

YUE concluded the 2008 season with high-quality educational programs for students at local Shanghai migrant schools in conjunction with Hands-on-Shanghai, a non-profit dedicated to enabling local citizens to serve their community. The greater flexibility afforded by a larger musician base allowed YUE to expand its Shanghai outreach program to provide educational music presentations to nearly 400 students. YUE members were then treated to a music class of their own when officials at the Xujiahui District Cultural Center, impressed by the quality of YUE performances, issued a last-minute invitation to members of YUE to return to the center for an afternoon of musical exchange with a local traditional Chinese quintet before departing Shanghai.

"Most musical 'exchanges' in China are solely on the level of performance, where a local Chinese ensemble plays the first half of a visiting American ensemble's concert,” YUE Executive Director Courtney Cox explains. “While living in Shanghai, I had the opportunity to participate in one of these exchanges as a member of Fudan's Wind Ensemble – unfortunately, the only real opportunity for any communication between the two groups was during the photo shoot onstage following the concert,” she said.

“While musical tours do have great value, YUE's vision reaches beyond an exchange of ideas or performances – rather, YUE seeks to tap into the power of music to bring people to use these exchanged ideas in a creative and collaborative new way, working together to bring about something new that can only be the result of shared efforts and mutual trust."

YUE 2008 took another step forward to realizing that vision. Following the program, Zheng Chen Zi, violin '08, shared his view: "In today's pluralistic world of music, a group of young classical music enthusiasts coming together to make this music and to reach cultural exchange through music draws the relationships between people closer, breaking down cultural barriers and allowing music to play to an even greater use. […] When YUE began, I didn't dare speak – but slowly, I discovered that everyone was really friendly and very interesting, that musically everyone had an opinion, and so I longed to take part. After two weeks, I had made friends, and began to rely on the team."

YUE 2008 was made possible with the generous support of the members of the Yale-China Association, Fuji Xerox China, the Xujiahui District Cultural Center, and members of the Yale Club of Shanghai.

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