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"I Sing Beijing" presents one of six U.S. concerts in Rose Theater

By Erica Hartsfield
On February 21, 2013

Though many people may not get the opportunity to travel to China, the University of Memphis and the Confucius Institute are giving the public a chance to experience the sounds of Chinese culture with "I Sing Beijing."
On Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Michael D. Rose Theater, the "I Sing Beijing" tour will make its second of six stops in Memphis.  The concert will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m.
According to a press release, "the program introduces Mandarin as an idiom for classical singing to Western artists and provides cultural exchange and education for Western and Chinese singers."  
The performance will be an opera sung in the Mandarin Chinese language, despite the fact that most operas are performed in Italian and that many of the singers' primary languages are not Mandarin.
Denise Gliwa, co-director of communications for "I Sing Beijing," described the show as a pioneering program dedicated to advancing vocal arts in China and the West.
"This is the beginning.  It went to Paris in January.  It had its New York debut last Saturday.  There's a short U.S. tour right now. Who knows what's to come?" she said.
Gilwa said that, though cultural exchange is not a new concept, it has never been executed in quite this way before.
"There have been cross-cultural programs in so many foyers," she said.  "[I Sing Beijing] is the first in performing arts."
Gilwa said it is important for Western and Chinese singers to come together to showcase an art that the world has not yet been exposed to.
"There is always room for new music," she said.  "This is new music. This is a sound you have never heard before. It's beautiful."
"I think we want them to leave humming the songs and learning new music and seeing one of the newest forms of cultural exchange performed on stage," she said.
Tickets are on sale on the Confucius Institute's website, and the Rose Theater box office will sell tickets starting at 11 a.m. on Feb. 24. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 10 and under, and free to U of M students with a valid University I.D.
According to Confucius Institute Assistant Director Riki Jackson, attendees are receiving a great deal, as tickets for the show usually range from $100 to $600.
Jackson emphasized the importance of "planning accordingly by calling early to secure tickets" and contacting the Confucius Institute for more information, especially since last year's concert was sold out.
Jackson said she wants everyone to take advantage of this great opportunity to educate themselves on Chinese opera and culture and "to be exposed to the multinational world which we live in."
"It underscores the commitment that the U of M has made to the international community," she said.  "It's taught in tandem, not in isolation."

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