The Chinese Music Ensemble

Joy Lu, Director of the Wesleyan Chinese Music Ensemble

The Wesleyan Chinese Music Ensemble is an active music group. Students from diverse backgrounds participate in the ensemble and their concerts attract audience from both Wesleyan and the larger communities. There has been a number of Chinese music ensembles at Wesleyan starting from the early 1980′s, instructed by Music Department’s graduate students. In 2002, for the first time, Wesleyan’s Chinese music ensemble began to be led by a distinguished musician from China, who now lives in New York City.

The current ensemble has come a long way. In Fall 2000, Levi Gibbs, ’02, an East Asian Studies major, returned from Shanghai Conservatory, China, where he studied Chinese language, music and erhu performance. In searching the opportunity to continue his erhu lessons, Levi was introduced to Wang Guowei, an erhu master from Shanghai National Music Orchestra, by Professor Su Zheng of the Music Department.

In Spring 2001, Professor Su Zheng, then Chair of Wesleyan’s Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, invited Wang Guowei and Susan Cheng, founder of the New York-based ensemble Music From China, to give a lecture/demonstration at the Center. The following year, Levi organized a Student Forum to study and play Chinese music, Professor Su Zheng was the Faculty Advisor and Wang Guowei began to visit Wesleyan as a private lesson teacher. Wang appeared as a guest artist and the director of the ensemble at the student concert in Spring 2002. Beginning from Fall 2002, with the collaborative effort of the Center for East Asian Studies and Music Department, Wang Guowei began to offer the Chinese music ensemble course in addition to private lessons.

The ensemble course is cross-listed with Music Department and East Asian Studies. Since then Chinese music concerts have been held regularly on campus. Starting from Fall 2007, Chinese music ensemble course has been funded by the Center for East Asian Studies.