Hangzhou - China's capital in the days of Marco Polo. It's still one of the most beautiful cities in the whole country. The south side of the city is filled with universities, one of which is the Zhejiang Province Academy of the Arts.
I'm Tim Roberts. Dennis Keller and I, from Ohlone's Music Department, traveled to Hangzhou in June of 2008 as part of an ongoing faculty exchange program with Zhejiang Academy and its 400 music students. As a matter of fact, Ohlone is the only Western university who has this exchange program with the Academy.
Now Zhejiang Academy focuses on both Chinese Traditional and Western Classical music. American Pop music, however, which includes Broadway and Tin Pan Alley vocal music as well as Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Rock, now that was a new area to be explored. We were there for two weeks to give the Academy and its students a crash course in American Pop.
We both gave lots of lectures on Broadway history, on the African diaspora, on Rock and Roll music, on Jazz Improv; and both of us presented master classes, as well, on either guitar or vocals. I taught a lot of Jazz Improv classes and I got to do a little jamming with the instrumentalists, while Dennis worked one-on-one with dozens of singers and worked with the Academy's big choir on Chinese music and American music.
I was very pleased to have the opportunity to give a solo concert of guitar music early in our visit. This gave us a chance to present Pop music as a concert-level musical style. I think it went over well with the audience.
But, you know, it was the students who completely impressed us with their concert the following week. Both the Traditional Chinese orchestra and the solo performers were absolutely first rate. Dennis even got the chance to conduct the last few choir selections himself.
What we'll probably remember most about our visit to Hangzhou is the mutual respect and friendships we forged with the Dean of the Music Department, Ming Xiu Huang, his assistant Huang Xi, and the rest of the faculty. They really wanted to learn from us. We met with the entire faculty to discuss methods of instruction, we could share with each other to make both of our learning institutions better and stronger. We had a great exchange of musical styles and musical pedagogy, and I hope in the future we can keep this relationship going and strengthen both of our schools as the years go by.