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“We Communicate Heart to Heart in Music“

DEC . 20 2010

Peking University, Dec. 17, 2010: Guests from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music performed live at Peking University (PKU) on Dec. 15. From their last show at China's National Center for the Performing Arts, the group hurried to PKU, where they received a warm welcome at one of Prof. Li Jing’s music classes. 


Musical performance by Jacobs School of Music musicians and PKU students

During the “lesson”, Prof. Stanley Ritchie and his ensemble played two melodious and euphonious sonatas by Antonio Bertali, an Italian who lived and worked in Vienna in the mid-17th century. One piece was written for two violins, viola da gamba, and keyboard; the other featured sackbut as well. Also performed were a sonata for two violins, viola da gamba, and keyboard by Dario Castello, a Venetian composer who worked in St. Mark's Basilica, and "Ecco Di Dolci Raggi," a madrigal by Claudio Monteverdi. Rounding out the performance, Benjamin Geier sang with great passion. The song presented how weather could influence one’s mood – causing one falling in love on a balmy day or become drenched in sadness under a gloomy sky.


Adding to the intrigue, each musician introduced his or her instrument by comparing the instrument to its historic predecessor. For example, in earlier times, the sackbut, an early trombone, played an important role in church and court music, while the Baroque violin was previously heavier, with steel strings and more tension on the bridge; one variety of Vio da Gamba had timbre similar to that of a guitar; the organ was widely used in the church.



  Musicians introduce their instruments

The high point of the performance was reached when two students, Zhang Yue from PKU Law School and Zheng Fengyi from the School of Physics, joined in the performance. Prof. Ritchie lent Zhang a bow previously used by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself to play a Mozart piece.

Afterwards the group held a question and answer session, in which the students had a opportunity to interact with the visiting artists. Ann Waltner, a professor of history and Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Minnesota, gave a speech on the relationship between music and history.

After class, the reporters met with Prof. Ritchie from Indiana University, Prof. Li from PKU, and PKU student Zhang Yue to discuss today's performance. "Music has always been a worldwide language," said Prof. Ritchie, "I like the conversations with young people. This whole experience is incredible." He also expressed apologies for having limited time to enjoy with the PKU students. "Due to the lack of time, our students' participation was relatively insufficient," said Prof. Li, "They were brilliant musicians. I hope we will have more opportunities like this, and a longer amount of time to show Chinese ancient music to our foreign friends." Zhang expressed that she was honored to use Prof. Ritchie's bow to play with the visiting musicians. She said: "For the first time, I felt so close to the classical music. At the sight of those ancient musical instruments, I could see what the music I'm playing today used to be really like. This opportunity encourages me to keep on practicing and explore the real essence of music."


  Group photo of Prof. Li Jing and the reporters

Members of the group:

Members of the group: In charge of the group, Wendy Gillespie and Stanley Ritchie are faculty members of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. The other members are all students. Among them included are James Andrewes, a masters candidate in Early Music; Benjamin, a masters candidate in Choral Conducting; Linda, a doctoral candidate in trombone; and Ignacio, a keyboard major, studying piano and harpsichord.


Linda Pearse is the Artistic Director of Sacabuche, an ensemble that performs mainly Renaissance and 17th-century repertoire for sackbut and cornetto, currently here in Beijing giving concerts, lectures, and demonstrations, with Wendy Gillespie and Stanley Ritchie as guest artists.


Reported by: Li Nuoya and Ma Xiao 
Edited by: Su Juan