East-West Week bridges sounds between China and ColoradoImage of

East-West Week bridges sounds between China and Colorado

As the spring semester begins to wrap at Colorado State University, the University Center for the Arts is slated to host students and faculty from East China Normal University’s School of Music April 23 – 30 as part of the cultural exchange between the two universities.

“I would never have experienced the differences between Eastern and Western music had I not had these exchanges,” said graduate student Carol Perry.  “It is part of the Chinese culture to be welcoming, and we are looking forward to returning the favor when the ECNU students arrive.”

Last year in June 2011 Carol and fellow graduate student Audrey Hurley were the visitors at ECNU’s Shanghai campus.

“I rehearsed opera scenes with the ECNU students all day,” said Hurley. “It was very rewarding to rehearse for a production at ECNU and then perform at the university. Our performance was in a venue that is half the size of the Organ Recital Hall at the UCA and the audience really filled the room. There were people sitting in the aisles and on the stage.”

Since 2009, East China Normal University and Colorado State University have shared a partnership that bridges the interests and research of ECNU and CSU students involved in music and clean energy.

During the first East-West week in 2010 at the UCA, Carol had the opportunity to learn about the differences in vibrato, technique and esthetic in Eastern music.

“In traditional Chinese songs, it is uncommon to hear a lot of vibrato, whereas in the West it is much more frequent. It was refreshing to hear a style of music that is so different and still so beautiful,” said Carol. 

Besides the memorable cultural exchanges that Carol and Audrey experienced as visitors at ECNU in 2011, the opportunity to travel to different countries is also an important part of preparing for a career in the performing arts.

“In the performance world, we have to adapt to other cultures quickly,” said Carol. “Not every production or rehearsal will be in your language. You need to learn to know where you are and be present in the culture you’re in.”

Before embarking for Shanghai, Carol and Audrey took a course with a CSU multi-cultural affairs graduate student to learn basic Mandarin and Chinese customs. During the class and while in Shanghai, Carol and Audrey found that their background in vocal performance helped them to learn the intonation in Mandarin that is a crucial element when learning the language.

“Mandarin Chinese uses a tonal structure for the language, and because that does not exist in English, our musical backgrounds came in handy,” said Carol.

After comparing the two cultures Carol and Audrey realized that facets of the Chinese culture stress the importance of welcoming guests.

“There was a couple who had a son or daughter that was a student at ECNU,” explained Audrey. “We ran into them when we were sightseeing in the city, and they took us out to lunch! They were so happy to have us visiting Shanghai.”

Now that Carol is back in the United States, she makes sure to use the Chinese customs she learned in Shanghai as a receptionist at The Armstrong Hotel in Old Town Fort Collins.

“In Asian cultures it’s more common to give and receive with two hands, so I try to do that when I check in our Eastern guests at the hotel,” said Carol.

Besides the Collaborative Voice Area recital and East-West Week Final Concert featuring the University Symphony Orchestra, combined choirs, and ECNU students, Audrey and Carol are looking forward to greeting the students. 

“We are going to pick them up from the airport,” said Audrey. “They greeted us at the airport in Shanghai, and we cannot wait to return the favor.”

East-West Week 2012 at the University Center for the Arts

The University Center for the Arts welcomes a contingency of 25 ECNU students and faculty for a second visit to Fort Collins. Modeled after the unprecedented collaboration of April 2010, please join us in welcoming the ECNU students back to the CSU campus.

East-West Week Collaborative Voice Area Recital
Tuesday, April 24, 7:30 p.m.
Organ Recital Hall, UCA
Click here for more information

East-West Week Virtuosos Series Concert
CSU Faculty Todd Queen, Tenor, and Cao Jin, Soprano
Thursday, April 26, 7:30 p.m. Organ Recital Hall, UCA
Click here for more information

East-West Week Final Concert
University Symphony Orchestra and Combined Choirs
Tales of the Exotic!
Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28, 7:30 p.m., Griffin Concert Hall, UCA
Click here for more information