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Pioneering music program builds Sino-US cultural bridge

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-04 08:13

Solid foundations

The unique and comprehensive platform makes Bard the leader in Chinese music education in the United States, according to Robert Martin, BCOM director.

"Well, we're very thrilled ... the most important thing is the ongoing process. So even though it's only four students who came, now it's real," Martin, a cellist, says.

"They're playing their instruments, they've made a difference and it's so important for the rest of the music students - and for the whole college - to see this.

"It's a new kind of music for the ears of the students at Bard and it's a great experience. So we're hoping to build on it. We are recruiting now for the next group," Martin says.

"I hope we will have eight next year, maybe more, and to keep building. We want to make sure we will learn from these students and how it works for them," Martin says.

Cai Jindong, director of BCOM's US-China Music Institute, agrees with Martin.

The 2019-2020 double degree program includes students majoring pipa, ruan and dizi (flute) in addition to guzheng and erhu, says Cai, who has been a guest conductor of major symphony orchestras in both China and the US.

"I hope we can have 20 to 30 students in five years, enabling us to establish a Chinese orchestra, which in itself will enrich the program," Cai says.

The BCOM-CCOM initiative also consists of an annual Chinese music festival, seminars and scholarly conferences on Chinese music, art and social development.

The second annual conference, which took place in mid-March, was themed "Tradition and Discovery: Teaching Chinese Music". Dozens of educators and performers from the US, Canada and Europe attended the two-day event.

"Chinese instruments and music are finding a greater audience in the West, yet there is a serious shortage of teachers and textbooks," Cai says. "The conference aims to set up a platform for educators and performers to share their experiences and add their input into further promoting Chinese music in Western countries.

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