Jazz Ensemble Travels to China in Musical Exchange

Posted: December 12, 2011 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: December 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm

By Erin Cushing

Director of Jazz Studies Jim Carroll at center, with members of the Mason Jazz Ensemble in China. Photo courtesy of Anqi Xue

There’s an old saying that “music will take you places.” For the School of Music, that proverb became a reality this past September with its first ever Jazz-to-China trip.

According to the trip organizer Anqi Xue, MA Arts Management ’11, members of the Mason Jazz Ensemble traveled to Shanghai in late September for a weeklong visit to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, one of the most respected conservatories in Asia, as part of a series of musical exchanges and collaborations.

The exchange included seminars, workshops between musicians from Mason and the conservatory and master classes on conducting, orchestra performance and jazz improvisation taught by Mason’s Director of Jazz Studies James Carroll, Athletic Bands Director Michael Nickens and Heritage Chair in Music Dennis Layendecker.

The ensemble also performed several times. Their first performance was at the Shanghai Concert Hall, which is considered the Carnegie Hall of Shanghai, and broadcast live by Shanghai Weekly Concert Radio. The 1,200-seat venue was sold out for the Mason group’s performance.

The group also collaborated and performed with members of the Shanghai Conservatory. The ensemble was hosted by Wang Yong, the conservatory’s associate director of arts management and the host of the Weekly Concert Series.

Other performances took place the Beijing Language and Cultural Institute and the Beijing Conservatory.

“The purpose of this trip was to create a platform for young musicians from both countries — U.S. and China,” says Xue. “It is a chance to exchange their music talents and promote better cultural understanding for generations to come.”

Xue and Carroll expressed their thanks to College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Bill Reeder, and Edward Weiner, senior partner of the Fairfax law firm Weiner & Spivey PLC, for sponsoring the trip.

According to Carroll, the Mason Jazz Ensemble has had a busy semester since its return from China. They performed at the annual Jazz 4 Justice to raise money for the Fairfax Law Foundation’s pro bono work, and performed for the International Conference of Fine Arts Deans; Madame Junqi Yan, vice chair of the National People’s Congress of China, in the Center for the Arts; and the Virginia Music Educators Association in Norfolk.

The ensemble will cap off the semester with a Dec. 20 performance at a reception at the Mason Inn for winter graduates.

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