INSIDE Chico State
0 December 9, 1999
Volume 30 Number 10
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
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Inside

STORIES

In The News

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Commentary

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Chico in China Tour
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Opera Workshop

The Opera Workshop (OW) at the Great Wall. In the background and through the "mist" you can see the Wall snaking up the hill like a dragon. Ying Yeh, director of the OW is in the center, Karen Levine, pianist is to Yeh’s right, and James Bankhead is in the back row, three from the right. (photo KM)
The Opera Workshop (OW) at the Great Wall. In the background and through the "mist" you can see the Wall snaking up the hill like a dragon. Ying Yeh, director of the OW is in the center, Karen Levine, pianist is to Yehıs right, and James Bankhead is in the back row, three from the right. (photo KM)

Director Ying Yeh with her husband Glen Cao who accompanied the Opera Workshop on its China tour. Cao is the author of Beijinger in New York, a successful book that sold more than a million copies and was adapted into a popular TV series in China which ran for twenty-one episodes. He has written three additional books, each one also a best seller in China. (photos KM)
Director Ying Yeh with her husband Glen Cao who accompanied the Opera Workshop on its China tour. Cao is the author of Beijinger in New York, a successful book that sold more than a million copies and was adapted into a popular TV series in China which ran for twenty-one episodes. He has written three additional books, each one also a best seller in China. (photos KM)

The Opera Workshop (OW) at the Great Wall. In the background and through the "mist" you can see the Wall snaking up the hill like a dragon. Ying Yeh, director of the OW is in the center, Karen Levine, pianist is to Yeh’s right, and James Bankhead is in the back row, three from the right. (photo KM)
The Opera Workshop (OW) at the Great Wall. In the background and through the "mist" you can see the Wall snaking up the hill like a dragon. Ying Yeh, director of the OW is in the center, Karen Levine, pianist is to Yehıs right, and James Bankhead is in the back row, three from the right. (photo KM)

Climbing the Great Wall. From left, Thomasin Saxe, HFA, Laurie Wurlitzer, tour member, and Judy Simmons, Library Services.
Climbing the Great Wall. From left, Thomasin Saxe, HFA, Laurie Wurlitzer, tour member, and Judy Simmons, Library Services.

Entering the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Entering the Forbidden City in Beijing.

On the park grounds of the Temple of Heaven, seniors gather daily to play music, cards, and socialize.
On the park grounds of the Temple of Heaven, seniors gather daily to play music, cards, and socialize.

A special international moment at the Temple of Heaven. The Opera Workshop has just sung Jasmine Flower in Chinese, and the Chinese onlookers are so pleased that a woman rushes to hug Marilyn Curtis (left) and Pam Thornton.
A special international moment at the Temple of Heaven. The Opera Workshop has just sung Jasmine Flower in Chinese, and the Chinese onlookers are so pleased that a woman rushes to hug Marilyn Curtis (left) and Pam Thornton.


Boats deliver vegetables to a market on a canal in Suzhou. Suzhou is called the "Venice of China." It is an hour’s drive from Shanghai. Homes line the canal which is used for transporting goods to Beijing and throughout the region.Boats deliver vegetables to a market on a canal in Suzhou. Suzhou is called the "Venice of China." It is an hourıs drive from Shanghai. Homes line the canal which is used for transporting goods to Beijing and throughout the region.

Dear Colleagues:

I thought you would be interested in knowing about the Opera Workshop's experience in China this past week.

The entire group of the ŒChico in China' tour, consisting of twenty students and seventy-nine community members, just got back last weekend. The trip we made to China was exciting and a great learning experience for our students. In addition to performances at three major Chinese conservatories in Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai, we also performed at the Landmark Hotel for people who generously donated money to support the trip, for CSU, Chico Beijing Semester students, and the U.S. Embassy to extend a Thanksgiving greeting to the diplomats and their families in Beijing.

Although they were tired after their long journey and 16 hours of jet lag, the students performed wonderfully and represented the school well. They had a hectic schedule that left them with little time for themselves, and though some of them got sick, and needed sleep, none of them missed a performance.

One of the wonderful experiences that our students had, was at the conservatory in Xi'an. There were many small groups discussing enthusiastically on vocal techniques. They were amazed that, across the world, students were learning the same methods and vocal techniques. They shared ideas with one another and talked about vocal problems with tension and how to fix them, and they exchanged addresses so that they may continue their friendship.

Another touching experience was at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. There is a circular wall there that if you whisper on one side of the circle, the sound will carry around to the other side where someone can hear the whisper perfectly. The acoustics are amazing. Dr. Bankhead asked the students to sing Jasmine flower (they learned it in Chico), a Chinese folk song known in Chinese, facing the wall. The music filled the area and resonated through the whole site. Every one of the Chinese and tourists stopped and listened. Many were moved to tears, one middle-aged Chinese lady even hugged one of our students, the scene was so moving. The song received such a roar of applause that some of the students started to sing again. This happened at every performance we sang Jasmine Flower.

Dr. Mike Bankhead helped the students appreciate the culture they were in. Dr. Caren Levine accompanied the five performances and played her own solo works at the conservatories.

John Gibbens put together a wonderful tour, which provided amazing experiences for the students, and we could not have succeeded without him.

We have cultivated a wonderful relationship with the conservatories, and some of their students and vocal faculty members want to come to Chico to study. They were impressed with the program we presented and how animated and relaxed our students were on stage and what wonderful energy they possessed. They kept this energy level through five performances in seven days.

Besides the performances, we had opportunities to visit many Chinese historical sights; everyone of us learned and enjoyed so much from the trip. Everyone came away having gained something. Everyone had experiences they will carry with them through their lives. I thank you for the opportunity we had to go on this tour, and for the opportunities that we will be able to provide in the future.

Thank you.

Dr. Ying Yeh
Director of Opera Workshop

 

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