Presented by the NYU Steinhardt Music Education Department
On August 10, 2019, the NYU Steinhardt program in Music Education presented the highly informative and inspiring East Asian Alumni Performing Arts Conference (EAAPAC). This full-day conference preceded a splendid Gala Concert at the Frederick Loewe Theatre, New York University, in New York City, including instrumental, vocal and dance performances by internationally acclaimed NYU alumni and exceptional students of varied ages, including many talented young children. The mission and practice of EAAPAC is the promotion of a strong cultural arts exchange through education for the ongoing benefit of many generations to come and to share this rich cultural understanding with teachers across the New York metropolitan area.
The conference offered enthralling demonstrations, instruction and participation in workshops concerning action research, literacy, song, dance instrument playing and calligraphy. Each new learning experience provided enlightenment concerning a vital aspect of the different arts and cultures of East Asia. This unique and exemplary event was produced by esteemed international Guqin concert artist and educator, Jiaoyue Lyu, M.A.
Excellent Workshops Demonstrated Fascinating East Asian Art Forms
Introduction to Inaugural EAAPAC. Dr. Elise Sobol, Director of Music Education, NYU Steinhardt Music Education Department, and Jiaoyue Lyu, M.M., NYU, and Producer of the East Asian Alumni Performing Arts Conference, introduced the workshop participants to the initial formation of EAAPAC and its global mission. They discussed highlights of the accomplishments and ongoing efforts of the members of this unique group in promoting and sustaining a worldwide cultural exchange through sharing educational enrichment of East Asian Arts for the benefit of current and future generations.
Chinese Guqin, Zhu, Erhu and Hulusi. Workshop attendees were introduced to the beautiful and intriguing Chinese musical instruments of the Guqin, Zhu, Erhu and Hulusi through presentations and performance demonstrations by EAAPAC Producer, Jiaoyue Lyu, M.M., internationally acclaimed Guqin Performance Artist, and NYU alumnus, Yang Wang, M.A., Erhu Master.
Calligraphy. Conference participants received inspiring hands-on instruction in the art of calligraphy from accomplished artists, Carolyn Lin and Jiaoyue Lyu.
Japanese Dance, Korean Drum and Mongolian Dance. This engaging and active workshop session was led by Ms. Kapson Yi (UM), President of the Korean Traditional Music Association of America and Human Treasure No. 27 in Korean Traditional Dance. Drum accompaniment was performed by a member of the Youngnam Samulnori Drum Quartet.
Research Presentations. These informative and uplifting presentations were the ending session for these culturally enriching workshops of the East Asian Alumni Performing Arts Conference. Jiaoyue Lyu and Yang Wang discussed the intent, impact and cultural events of EAAPAC across the country and the world today for sharing the ageless enlightenment of the exquisite and empowering Arts of East Asia for the global benefit of humankind.
Outstanding Gala Concert Uplifted and Inspired One and All
The evening Gala Concert was an enthralling and joyous celebratory experience as the final event of this conference. From the concert’s opening with vibrant new and original music played on traditional instruments by The Either Band to the rhythmic Korean Hip-hop Dance and empowering Korean Drum performance as the concert finale, this event offered a mesmerizing artistic experience.
The outstanding variety of accomplished musicianship displayed by children, teens, young adults and recently graduated alumni of NYU encompassed the wide spectrum of music performance and genre. The highly attentive and responsive audience was treated to a truly unique concert that included an indie electronic band, Guqin and Erhu soloist performances, The American Bilingual Choir, Mongolian folk dance, and Korean pop, folk and hip-hop dance along with Korean drum performance.
Featured solo performances were given by Jiaoyue Lyu, internationally acclaimed virtuoso Guqin concert artist, Yang Wang, highly esteemed Erhu Master, Dai Nuo, celebrated Beijing Opera Performer and Ms. Kapson Yi (UM), esteemed traditional Korean dancer and musician.
The American Bilingual Choir. The American-Chinese Bilingual Chorus (ABC) is an innovative new music and cultural program for children and teens ages 3 to 16 in the New York metropolitan area. This unique educational opportunity offers these students the attractive and valuable experience of learning and using the Chinese language through singing and other performing arts for a lifetime of musical growth and enjoyment.
Concert performances of the ABC include venues in the U.S. and abroad. This excellent chorus and cultural experience is led by Director Jiaoyue Lyu, M.M. For this EAAPAC evening Gala Concert, this captivating chorus of young voices performed a beautiful and endearing Chinese song entitled, “Love Me, Hug Me,” and a group of World Classic Children’s Folk Songs from different countries, accompanied by Zedie Lopez on Hulusi.
Jiaoyue Lyu, Guqin. Internationally renowned virtuoso Guqin performance artist and educator, Jiaoyue Lyu, M.M., performed “Spring Breezing” by Yi Gong and “Drunken Man,” a Chinese traditional piece as her featured and exemplary Gala Concert selections. Her astute and highly sensitive expertise as a superb Guqin performance artist was a rare, exquisite, treasured gift and experience for this very fortunate EAAPAC audience.
Yang Wang, Erhu. As an acclaimed Erhu Master, Yang Wang performed “Horse Racing” by Haihuai Huang and “Taxkorgan in the Sunshine” by Gang Chen with a stellar balance of strident, high-energy phrases and gently nuanced, poignant tonalities. With his knowledge and understanding of new and old music from different regions of China, he transports his listeners to distant locales and fascinating legends.
Dai Nuo, Opera Performance. Beijing Opera Performer, Dai Nuo, sang and enacted selections from the film, “Farewell to My Concubine” (1993) with true vocal agility and excellence. Her performances are sponsored by the New York Chinese Opera Society representing the very heart and essence of Chinese culture. She brought the genuine focused strength and fragility of pure, delicate yet enduring beauty inherent in Chinese culture and music to center stage for the Gala. The mission of the New York Chinese Opera Society (NYCOS), as a non-profit organization, is to introduce and promote Chinese traditional opera, increasing its appreciation and popularity in the U.S.
Ms. Kapson Yi (UM). Ms. Kapson Yi performed an enchanting Korean Fan Dance: Heung-chum for the evening Gala concert with superb grace, charm and nuanced emotions. Her velvet-smooth movements entranced and uplifted the audience throughout her elegant, poetic dance. As a highly acclaimed and accomplished dancer, she is Human Treasure No. 27 in Korean Traditional Dance.
The Either Band (Li Zong, Yang Wang, Jiaju Shen). This exceptionally fine indie electronic band based in New York is composed of three celebrated musicians: Erhu Master Yang Wang, M.A. (erhu); Li Zong, M.A. (vocals), composer, electronic music artist, vocalist and model; and Jiaju Shen (pipa), electronic musician, plucked string instrument soloist and model. These excellent musicians as The Either Band are celebrated as the single leading group of performing artists playing electric traditional Chinese instruments.
Korean Pop Dance (Angela Chang, Monica Tsay, Angie Chen). These accomplished dancers are from Great Neck North High School, Long Island, New York. Sophomore Angela Chang began ballet studies a the age of 4 and became interested in K-pop at age 13. Angie Chen, now a junior, is an excellent figure skater and practices dancing with Angela. Monica Tsay, now in her senior year, is a dance act leader at her school.
The Mongolian and Korean Folk Dance performance director was Yuxi Liu, a faculty member at XH Music & Arts, and the Korean Hip-hop dancers were directed by Andy Huynh, also on the XH Music & Arts faculty.
The Korean Drum performance was by the ShinMyung Team.
History of Guqin
As the oldest stringed instrument in Asia, the Guqin is surrounded by mystery since it contains many symbolic values. It holds the number one ranking among the four embodiments of traditional Chinese culture: musical instruments, chess, calligraphy and painting. The history of the Guqin spans nearly 3,000 years, and it represents the 365 days of a year as 3 chi, 6 cun and 5 fen. The Guqin surface board has an arc shape to represent the round quality of heaven. Its bottom board is flat as a symbol of the square form of earth.
The Guqin has 13 huis, which are dots to indicate positions that symbolize the 13 months of the year, to include the “leap month” of the Chinese lunar calendar. Originally, the Guqin was designed to have five strings to represent the five essential elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth. However, approximately 1,000 years ago, King Wen of Zhou added the sixth string to commemorate his dead son. King Wen’s successor, King Wu of Zhou, added the additional (7th) string to raise the morale of his troops during battle. The Guqin is also referred to as the seven-stringed Qin.
Throughout its history, the Guqin has been a means of expressing feelings, communicating ideas and indicating one’s true nature. It has always offered an excellent way for individuals to reveal emotions, moderate modes of thought and search for inner peace. During 1977, a recording of “Flowing Water” performed on Guqin was selected for inclusion in the Voyager Golden Record for the NASA space launch.
In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the second listing of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” which included the Chinese Guqin art. This historic musical instrument was heralded for strongly reflecting the pure essence of Chinese cultural heritage. Today, the honored Guqin continues to represent the rich, restrained and dignified yet empowering charm of East Asian cultures.
History of the Hulusi
The Hulusi or cucurbit flute is a free reed wind instrument with origins in China and the Shan State. For performing, it is held vertically and is designed with three bamboo pipes passing through a gourd wind chest. The central pipe has finger holes for playing, and the outer two pipes are drone pipes.
Some hulusi designs have a single drone pipe with the other outer pipe included simply for ornamentation. The drone pipe can be stopped since it includes a finger hole. Advanced hulusi styles have keyed finger holes that are similar to those of an oboe or clarinet. These keyed holes can increase the range of the hulusi to include several octaves.
First played in the Shan State of Myanmar and Yunnan province by ethnic minority groups like the Dai people, the hulusi was called “pi lamtao.” “Pi” translates as “woodwind instruments,” and “lamtao” (or namtao) means “gourd.” It attained high levels of popularity across China as the harmonica did in the West. Improved designs were later produced. The hulusi has a pure and richly mellow sound similar to the clarinet. A related instrument, the hulusheng, is a mouth organ that has a gourd wind chest.
History of the Zhu
The Zhu is a stringed instrument that was first produced during the Warring States Period. It disappeared during the final days of the Song Dynasty and did not reappear for nearly 1,000 years. During a primary archaeological discovery in 1993, the Zhu re-surfaced. Today, there are only 13 Zhus in worldwide existence, and there are only approximately 20 known people around the globe who can play this ancient musical instrument.
Biographies of Featured Performing Artists
Jiaoyue Lyu (M.A.’14), the producer of the East Asian Alumni Performing Arts Conference, is a highly accomplished Guqin and Zhu performer based in New York. Both the Guqin and the Zhu are celebrated traditional Chinese musical instruments. As an acclaimed concert artist, Ms. Lyu has had solo Guqin performances at the United Nations Headquarters, Carnegie Recital Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Concert Hall, Macerata, The Rossini Theatre in Italy and many other leading international concert halls.
Jiaoyue’s concerts in Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall were the very first Guqin and Zhu solo recitals in these world-renowned concert halls and music performance venues. As a highly honored Chinese musical instrument, the Guqin is included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Included in the major highlights of Jiaoyue’s 2017-2018 performance season are an exclusive video recording for the Metropolitan Museum of Art concerning the historic Guqin, a master class at Conservatorio Statale di Musica “Gioachino Rossini,” and distinguished invitations from the London Confucius Institute in the UK and from universities in Italy, France, Poland and the Netherlands for lecture-recitals and engagement tours. Ms. Lyu’s exemplary Guqin solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 2014 and her superb Guqin and Zhu solo performance at Lincoln Center in 2016 were both awarded highest critical acclaim and won the hearts and admiration of her fans.
Ms. Lyu is also a noted Chinese Calligrapher, and in 2014, one of her pieces was included in the collection of the New York International Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition, displaying more than 200 masterpieces by 200 calligraphers from 15 different countries. She is held in high esteem as an educator for her excellent teaching of students of varied ages, from young children to adults, about the treasured Chinese art forms of Guqin and Zhu music performance and calligraphy.
Jiaoyue continues to receive praise for her unique and outstanding ability to combine traditional Chinese music and culture with Western education in her exceptional promotion and sharing of Chinese heritage and fine arts. She produced the S.H.E. (Chinese) Song Cover performed by American children from 5 to 8 years of age who are currently learning Chinese as a second language. These young performers showcased their skills in mastering the lyrics as well as their talents for delivering original rousing rap music. This video received five million reviews within one week and press coverage by leading national and international media.
Following her “Serene Moon” concert at Carnegie Hall in 2014, Jiaoyue Lyu was heralded in a review in IMPress, a publication of the International Press Association, as a “beautifully sensitive and mesmerizing virtuoso.” Today, she continues to mesmerize, enlighten and enrapture her audiences with her exemplary balances of earthly empowerment and ethereal beauty in exquisite music performance. Her virtuosic eloquence and expertise continue to exalt purest artistic excellence.
Li Zong (M.A. ’15) is a music composer, electronic music artist, vocalist and model. His vocal performance projects have included concerts at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the United Nations Headquarters. His music has been heard at runway events for New York Fashion Week and Shanghai Fashion Week. His song arranging projects have included reality shows, such as “China’s Got Talent” and “The Voice of China.”
He has also created soundtracks for approximately 20 films, including films selected for Festival de Cannes, Hollywood International Film Festival and TMC London Film Festival. In addition, Li is the producer and composer for Vocaloid singer Hatsune Miku and V-Singer family’s official album releases.
Yang Wang (M.A. ’19) is an electronic musician, bowed string instrument performer and model. He has performed his music on stage at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the United Nations, the Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Afropunk music festival and the PhillyLGBT Jazz Festival.
Yang performs on erhu, jinghu and morin khuur music instruments. He was awarded Gold at the 2018 NY Chinese Instruments International Competition. Yang has been interviewed and has received media coverage by China Daily, Chinese Central TV, Marysville Daily, Xinhua News, World Journal and SinoVision. Yang’s credits as an actor include an appearance in the movie, “ANYA.”
Jiaju Shen is an electronic musician, plucked string instrument soloist and model. Her many invitations to perform as a pipa soloist have included concerts at the Beijing Olympic Games, Shanghai Expo Closing Ceremony, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, the Metropolitan Museum, Barclays Center and NYFW. Jiaju has had media coverage by Agence France-Presse, The New York Times, WNBC, CBS, South China Morning Post, Wen Wei Po, China Daily, Phoenix New Media, Yahoo, Sina News, China Press, Sing Tao Daily, World Journal and SinoVision.
In 2014, Jiaju collaborated with an American industrial design team for the production of a development version of the pipa. The instrument that resulted from this collaboration is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a pipa pioneer and innovator, Jiaju recorded her first electronic pipa album entitled, “Black Silk.” As a model, she has had images of her face published in NYFW and Vogue Magazine.
Dai Nuo is a celebrated contemporary opera performer who focuses on Dao Ma Dan, a female warrior role. Ms. Dai is a graduate of the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. During her career, she has studied with several masters, including Shizhen Jia, Rongying Cui, Xihong Li, Rongyiing Zhang and Danju Song. Ms. Dai has been honored with many national and international awards.
Ms. Kapson Yi (UM) studied dance under the guidance of Han Young Sook. She is Human Treasure No.27 in Korean Traditional Dance. Ms. Kapson Yi is President of the Korean Traditional Music Association of America. She is also a Board Member of the Korean American Association of Greater New York.
Many thanks to Dr. Elise S. Sobol, Jiaoyue Lyu, M.M., and Noreen Goldberg whose outstanding leadership, direction, input and guidance made the EAAPAC an inspiring and enlightening experience for all, and who made the writing of this article possible.
NYU Steinhardt School for Culture, Education and Human Development, Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
Elise S. Sobol, Ed. D.
Director, Music Education; Visiting Associate Professor of Music Education; Coordinator, Licensure Programs, Field Observations and Student Teaching; Director, Continuing Education in Music (C.E.M.)
Jiaoyue Lyu, M.A., M.M.
Producer, East Asian Alumni Performing Arts Conference; Outstanding Graduate Awards 2014
Program Administrator; Music Education, Drama Therapy, Music Therapy