On Sunday, October 30, 2022, Carleton’s acclaimed Chinese Music Ensemble will hold a special performance with the CAAM Chinese Dance Theater from St. Paul, MN. The performance will be at 3:00 p.m. in Krakum Hall.
Gao Hong, Director of Chinese Music Ensemble and Senior Lecturer in Chinese Musical Instruments, was initially approached by the CAAM Chinese Dance Theater to collaborate, after members of the dance theater saw Carleton’s Chinese Music Ensemble perform in The Cities last spring. Gao Hong said, “They were so shocked; they didn’t know how good our Chinese Ensemble was.” Gao was delighted to receive such a reaction and understood their surprise.
Seeing the Chinese Music Ensemble perform live is a significantly different experience than watching a video or listening to a performance. Gao likened the difference to seeing a famous piece of art in person, “It is a completely different experience.” She was thrilled that CAAM had taken such a great liking to the Ensemble’s performance and was even more enthusiastic about the prospect of a dual performance between the CAAM Dance Theater and the Chinese Music Ensemble.
“I wanted my students to experience the interdisciplinary nature of music,” Gao said, as another part of the reason she was excited to engage in this collaborative concert. Dance will add a lot to the music, and the music will add a lot to the dance. Gao described both artforms as having the ability to storytell, or bring a narrative to life. Put together, the stories that both the songs and dances tell will be enhanced by the other artform. Together, Chinese Dance Ensemble and CAAM Chinese Dance Theater will perform four songs: Shepherds, Moonlight Over the Spring River, Ah-Xi Dancing Under the Moonlight and finally Gao Hong and a dancer will perform an improvised piece. Gao described how beautifully the music and dance will complement each other: “When they combine together, you can feel life.”
Shannon Liu ‘23 plays the Dizi – a Chinese bamboo flute – in the Chinese Music Ensemble. Liu knew about Carleton’s Chinese Music Ensemble before she even came to Carleton. She said, “It was one of the main reasons why I decided to attend Carleton — because we are the only college with an official Chinese Ensemble.” Liu has been in the Ensemble since her freshman year but describes the upcoming concert as one of the most unique ones. Liu described the concert: “It is very unique and rare to experience live Chinese music and dance at the same time. There will also be a unique improvisation segment where both Gao Hong and the solo dancer will be improvising, so the audience will experience a once in a lifetime performance.”
Gao Hong is extremely proud of her students and excited for the upcoming concert: “I just want everyone to see how talented my students are,” she said. “Everyone always thinks they are from a conservatory, but none of them are even just a music major.”
The concert will feature Japanese folk pieces, Chinese and minority folk and classical pieces and a Chinese pop song.
Photo courtesy of Gao Hong