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China-US in dialogue on cooperation at music forum

China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-10-12 08:02
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Liu Xiaojing from the Central Conservatory of Music takes a New York audience on a pipa journey rich in ancient Chinese esthetics. [Photo/XINHUA]

NEW YORK — Experts from China and the United States have called for enhancing music education cooperation and exchange between the two nations to energize bilateral ties.

The US-China Music Forum — Confronting Challenges and Looking to the Future took place at the Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium at the Asia Society on Saturday in New York.

The panelists said classical music exchanges between the two nations over the past five decades demonstrate the harmonious interplay between art and diplomacy.

They noted that in an ever-changing world, music remains a bridge that connects hearts and minds, fostering understanding and empathy between cultures.

Jindong Cai, director of the US-China Music Institute and conductor of the Bard College's East-West Ensemble, opened the event by expressing his hope of strengthening the connections between China and the US through music. He cited successful cooperation between Bard College and China's Central Conservatory of Music over the past five years as an example.

The West and the East have communicated through music throughout history, Cai points out. "The traditional instrument the pipa (a Chinese lute), was initially from Persia (now Iran), traveled its way by the Silk Road, and reached western China in the 4th century AD."

Yu Hongmei, a professor and also director of the Chinese Music Department at the Central Conservatory of Music, says academic exchanges are an important way to promote academic development and cultural exchange between the two countries. "Civilization is more colorful through communication, and culture is enriched through mutual understanding and learning," Yu says.

Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and founder of the innovative The Orchestra Now, highlights the universality of music. "Collaboration and exchange is a long-term game to share what we have in common as human beings, regardless of one's nationality and background."

Botstein says communication through music fosters bonding among people from different countries, as it encourages people to lower their guard for friendly interactions.

Another panel speaker, Chen Yi, a distinguished professor at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says music can transcend political barriers and pave the way for a brighter future of collaboration, friendship and mutual respect.

"Not only instrumental music but also the power of theater and musical storytelling, all these components will become the new language in which you will be shaped and influenced," she says, adding it also brings people back to their roots.

Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society, says classical music is one of the last areas where "we can all comfortably enjoy something together". Schell expresses his hope that Washington and Beijing "can use it constructively" to help stabilize the bilateral relationship.

Gary Ginstling, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic, speaks about his recent trip to Shanghai with a small group of the orchestra's musicians. "I can't wait to go back with the full orchestra," says Ginstling.

The discussion was followed by performances by pipa virtuoso Liu Xiaojing from the Central Conservatory of Music and Anita Balazs, a cellist with the Bard East-West Ensemble.

The US-China Music Forum is a new addition to the China Now Music Festival, currently in its sixth year. The festival was launched in 2018 by the US-China Music Institute and China's Central Conservatory of Music.


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