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Westminster Choir travels to China in October

Performances are first in Asia since 1996
09/27/2018

The Westminster Choir and conductor Joe Miller will travel to China to present concerts in Beijing and workshops at Kaiwen Academy Oct. 14-22. They will be joined by piano faculty member J. J. Penna. The tour is at the invitation and with the financial support of Kaiwen Education.

Their schedule will include participation in the 2018 International Chorus Carnival, where they will perform for other festival choirs, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts and Tsinghua University. They will also present a public concert at the Forbidden City Concert Hall.  Additionally, they will perform and lead workshops at two of Kaiwen Academy’s schools. The concert programs will include Eric Whitacre’s Water Night, Ted Hearne’s Consent, Johannes Brahms’ Schicksalslied and Moses Hogan’s arrangement of Elijah Rock.  They will also perform works by Westminster composers: Joel Phillips’ Little Lamb, Daniel Elder’s Lullaby and Tim Brent’s Peace Song.

The Westminster Choir is the only American ensemble invited to participate in the festival, which is sponsored by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education and chaired by Lingfen Wu, professor in the Conducting Department of China Conservatory of Music. The others choirs are from South Africa, Poland, Korea, Japan, Austria, Latvia, Spain, the Philippines and Malaysia. The festival will provide the opportunity for something of a reunion for Susanna Saw, the conductor of the Malaysian Institute of Art’s Mixed Voices Choir. Enrolled in Westminster’s online Master of Music Education program, this past summer she participated in Westminster’s Choral Institute at Oxford in Oxford, England, and Westminster’s Summer Choral Festival in Princeton.

Between their performances and workshops, the choir members will have time to visit some of Beijing’s iconic landmarks: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.

These are the Westminster Choir’s first performances in Asia since the ensemble and Joseph Flummerfelt visited Taiwan and South Korea in 1996. Concerts in Asia were also included in the Westminster Choir’s 1956-57 five-month, globe-circling tour under the auspices of the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Exchange Program.  The longest goodwill tour ever made under that program, it included concerts in 22 countries for 250,000 people.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to represent the United States and to bring Westminster’s music to China for the first time,” says Joe Miller. “The academic year began on Sept. 5, and the students have been working very hard with a very compressed time frame to prepare a challenging and creative program that will connect with audiences of many cultures.”