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Music From China

170 Park Row, #12D, New York, NY   

Music From China is a chamber ensemble performing eclectic programs of traditional Chinese music and contemporary work. Well-versed in the classical and folk repertoire, the ensemble is equally accomplished at interpreting the music of today using traditional instruments. The group was founded in 1986 by Director Susan Cheng and is under the artistic direction of erhu virtuoso Wang Guowei.


Music From China performs to audiences in its home in New York City, throughout the U.S., and internationally. The ensemble has made numerous appearances at colleges and universities including Princeton, Duke, Pittsburgh, Yale, Wisconsin, Dayton, Bucknell, Vermont, Colgate, Indiania State, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Texas A&M, Bard, Vassar, Dartmouth, Lafayette, Haverford, William & Mary, Skidmore, Brandeis, Peabody Conservatory, and Eastman School of Music. The ensemble has also been presented at major institutions including the Asia Society, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, Chautauqua Institution, 92nd Street Y, Freer & Sackler Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, American Folk Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, and the Library of Congress.


An important component of Music From China’s musical explorations is collaboration. The ensemble has commissioned and performed music by celebrated composers such as Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Bright Sheng, Huang Ruo, Neil Rolnick, and Derek Bermel. Its new music partners include such distinguished artists as Present Music, PRISM Quartet, Music From Copland House, Todd Reynolds String Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Fred Sherry, and Alan Kay. In recognition for creative programs that combine the music of East and West, Music From China is recipient of a Chamber Music America/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Commendation.


Music From China promotes Chinese culture among young people through educational activities and training. The ensemble performs for all grade levels in public schools and university students. Established in 2004, the Music From China Youth Orchestra conducted by Wang Guowei performs public concerts on the east coast and abroad. Ongoing music instruction and a summer music program teach children the skills to become keepers of Chinese musical heritage.

BRIGHT SHENG: The Singing Gobi Desert (excerpt)

This work reflects the composer’s personal encounter of Silk Road music culture in northwest China with its overwhelming variety and beauty. The composer is particularly inspired by the phenomenon of the singing sands of the Gobi Desert where particles of sand rub against each other, creating an eerie musical sound.
Performers: Chen Yihan, pipa; Wang Guowei, erhu; Hu Jianbing, sheng; Helen Yee, yangqin; Frank Cassara, percussion; PRISM Saxophone Quartet

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CHEN YI: Mr. Dong Guo and the Wolf

2nd Movement of “Chinese Fables”
The cello and erhu represent the soft-hearted scholar Dong Guo who narrowly escaped being eaten by a wolf whom he had helped to hide from a hunter. The pipa’s sound is sometimes charming and at times aggressive, reflecting the cunning of the savage wolf.
Performers: Wang Guowei, erhu; Chen Yihan, pipa; Greg Hesselink, cello; Frank Cassara, percussion

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ZHOU LONG: Metal (excerpt)

1st Movement of “The Five Elements”
The five elemental energies held by the ancient Chinese to compose the physical universe are metal, wood, water, fire, earth. The sound of an iron forge is echoed by the striking of chords on the pipa, which creates distance in sonority. Percussion and the pipa extend the flowing texture of the wind and stringed instruments. These symbolize the image of extraction and refinement.
Performers: Shuni Zou, dizi; Alan Kay, clarinet; Chen Yihan, pipa; Wang Guowei, erhu; Fred Sherry, cello; Frank Cassara, percussio

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