With all the material objects made in China, people tend to forget the intangible things that come from a country of over one billion people. Some of these lesser-known aspects of Chinese culture were recently showcased at a concert titled “A Musical Trip to China.”
This free concert took place Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. The Modern Languages Department and several other Elizabethtown College offices cosponsored the concert.
Since the concert was open to the public, many people from outside the College community, including the families of the performers, were in attendance.
“It’s not often you get to see a formal Chinese performance around here, so it’s a good chance to show people something different,” said Professor of Chinese, Suping Chen.
This is the second time Chen has organized a concert featuring Chinese music.
Chen, who started singing at a young age, sang four songs in the concert. Connor Rohrer, a junior at Trinity High School in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, accompanied her on piano during her first song.
Rohrer also played the song “I Love You, China” as a solo.
“Each song shows a different style, but they slowly connect together and help people see how Chinese culture changed over the years when they were written,” Chen said.
The concert featured everything from Chinese songs and dances to martial arts and a string quartet.
The Sunshine Dance Club performed two classic Chinese dance numbers titled “Misty Memories” and “On a Spring Morning.”
Students from Jose Johnson’s Chinese Martial Arts and Wellness Center showed off their fighting skills and members of the Chinese Club at Trinity High School in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania sang a song about childhood.
Many of the performers, including the string quartet, were students from local high schools and middle schools. These included Trinity High School, Hershey High School and Hershey Middle School in Hershey, Pennsylvania and Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School in Columbia, Pennsylvania.
Sophomores Emily Seratch and Zhuhao Li co-emceed the concert, introducing each act first in Chinese and then in English. Seratch, an international business major who plans to study abroad in China, also sang a duet with Chen entitled “Wishes.” Guitarist Timothy Lengel accompanied Chen and Seratch.
Chen said she hoped the concert would bring a wider audience to Etown. Over 500 tickets had been distributed by the day before the event, and Chen even received an email from Shippensburg University students asking if they could come to the event for their class.
Even The Hershey Company played a role in the concert by donating candy for audience members to take home.
The concert began with two videos made by students in the College’s Chinese program. In the first video, the students dubbed over a clip from the movie “Frozen” to make it sound like the characters were talking about preparing for a Chinese exam. Seratch made the second video, in which she spoke in Chinese about her life at Etown.
The stage was decorated to fit the theme as well. Paper lanterns hung from the rafters of the stage and many background pictures and videos were projected on the screen behind the performers.
Time-lapse videos of flowers blooming played during the string quartet’s song “Jasmine Flower,” and an animation of snow falling on a winter scene played during the contemporary dance number “Snow.”
Sophomore Shannon Kelly attended the concert for her History of Modern Asia class. She said she has been interested in Chinese culture ever since she watched the movie “Mulan” as a child.
Kelly enjoyed all of the acts in the show and especially the ones featuring Chen. “Her vocalizations were so emotional, and I felt like I was very connected to it even though I couldn’t understand the actual lyrics,” Kelly said.
Kelly also appreciated the variety of acts included in the concert.
“I just loved the incorporation of all the different traditions,” she said. “They had dance. They had different styles of music. They had vocals. The martial arts performance was also really cool, and I wasn’t expecting it.”
This variety is exactly what Chen aimed for when planning the concert.
“When you think about Chinese culture, you usually think about either the traditional things or the new things. We’re trying to use this event to bring those things and times together,” Chen stated.