The PCC Chinese Music Ensemble flooded the Westerbeck Recital Hall with sounds of China earlier this month, featuring songs such as “Butterfly Dreams” and “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon.”

The event was part of the orchestra’s annual spring concert directed by Cynthia Hsiang. It showcased the performance of many students and faculty members, and guest starred soloists Zhiming Han and Yunhe Liang.

“The guest soloists are very kind and have been playing with us for 10 years,” Hsiang said.

The concert was not like other conventional concerts in that it included ethnic Chinese instruments, such as the erhu, dizi, guzheng, and yanggin, in addition to more common instruments, like the piano, drums, and cymbals.

“The erhu is a Chinese two-string fiddle and is similar to the violin,” Hsiang said. “The only difference is that the bow of the erhu cannot be removed. The erhu is standard for opera and ensemble. The dizi is a Chinese bamboo flute and is a universal instrument. ”

Hsiang continued explaining the different instruments.

“The yangqin is the Chinese butterfly harp and a type of hammered dulcimer,” Hsiang said. “It is played by striking two sticks [called “hammers”] against a stringboard. The person playing the yanggin would sit in the center and act as a conductor.”

“The guzheng, or zheng, is a Chinese long zither and an ancestor to the Japanese koto,” she added. “It sounds very pretty and is similar to the guitar. The zheng can be played in an ensemble or as a solo.”

The song selection was picked out by Hsiang, as she takes into account how likely the performers can master the song on time and what the audience would want to hear.

“I usually pick tunes suitable to the instrument or that are easier for students to pick up,” Hsiang said. “I also include songs from previous centuries. I want my students and the audience to experience different styles from other centuries.”

The PCC Chinese Music Ensemble is part of a one-unit class offered by Music Department during the fall and spring semesters. It can be retaken up to four times, but the students can still volunteer for the ensemble after their time limit is up. The class rehearses every Thursday night at the Center of the Arts Building.

“Being in the ensemble is hard work, as the students have to dedicate a lot of their time in rehearsal,” says Chinese music major Francis Ching. “But I enjoy being in it because I get to immerse myself in the beautiful Chinese culture.”


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