The HARMONY music tour, February 27—March 7, 2010, sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Valparaiso University (CIVU), took the Valparaiso University Chamber Concert Band (VUCCB), and guest soloists YAN Shengmin (tenor) and CHEN Jia (erhu player) both from Hangzhou, LIU Xiangyun (pipa and ruan player) and GAO Wenwen (sheng player) both from Nanjing, and WANG Jia (pipa player) from Shanghai, China, to three Confucius Institutes, four high schools and two churches in four US states, namely Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
The three Confucius Institutes were the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis (http://lenscape.org/streaming/lantern_festival.html), the Confucius Institute at the North Carolina State University, and the Confucius Institute at Purdue University. The four high schools were Lemont High School, Reavis High School, North Judson-San Pierre High School, and Portage High School. The two churches were the Christ Lutheran Church in Palatine and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in West Bend.
This long-distance music effort aimed at enhancing cultural communication and exchange between China and the US culminated in huge success. Very positive comments ensued.
Doctor Jeff Doebler, music professor of VU and director of the VUCCB, wrote upon completion of this tour: “Thanks again and congratulations on a fantastic CIVU/Chamber Concert Band tour! The undertaking was a tremendous success, and was one of my favorite tours of all time of any kind. The band music, combined selections, soloists, venues, hosts, Confucius Institutes, lodging, bus transportation, premieres, meals, and camaraderie were exceptional. What a great model for ‘Harmony’ this was...CIs, American students, Chinese soloists, schools, and churches. The tour would not have been possible without your efforts.”
He went on to say: “I believe we should consider making this type of tour a regular event…Perhaps the tour could be completely funded by CI (like this year), or in a collaboration with the Department of Music…I truly believe that what we are doing here is a great model of both ‘music education in action’ and ‘harmony in action’, and I am proud to be working with you.”
Mr. Kurt Przybyla, member of the VUCCB commented: “The tour was simply amazing. Having the ability to play with the Chinese Soloist had to be one of the most musically rewarding experiences of my career. There was so much more to the tour than music, though. All of us built new friendships that will last longer than the tour itself. Our memories of the tour are priceless and indescribable: The sunrise from the overnight bus rides, the view of the Appalachian Mountains, [the] Dragon Boat Festival [music piece performed] at Purdue, etc. I'm sad it is over and I am already looking forward to the tour next year.”
Mr. Ronald Entzminger, member of the Christ Lutheran Church, Palatine, who had been to Bangladesh to teach English, commented after watching the performance in their church: “It is great to see American musicians play Chinese music and Chinese musicians play American music. Cultural exchange and combination benefit us all. What the CIVU has done is a great thing.”