Chinese Music Society of North America (Naperville, IL)

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An orchestra on the the stage, the director, arms strecehed gives his back to the audience.  The musicians play traditional chinese instruments

The Chinese Classical Orchestra, led by Dr. Shen Sin-yan, has internationalized Chinese music over the last two decades. Photo courtesy of Chinese Music Society of North America

The Chinese Music Society of North America in Naperville, Illinois was organized in 1969 to increase the knowledge of Chinese music and performing arts, and became a nonprofit organization in 1976. The Society often works through performances by the Chinese Classical Orchestra, led by Dr. Shen Sin-yan, an authority on Chinese music. Today, the Society membership numbers more than 1,800 musicians and music lovers. In performance and on recordings, the Chinese Classical Orchestra has internationalized Chinese music over the last two decades, making it more accessible to the general public.

In FY 2004, the Society received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support the 2004-2005 season gala concert of the Chinese Classical Orchestra. The gala concert was held on November 6, 2004 in the International House Auditorium of Chicago. The orchestra uses traditional Chinese instruments, such as the bawu, a free-reeded bamboo flute; the yangqin, a grand dulcimer; the erhu, a vertical python-skin fiddle; and the pipa, a grand lute.

The program included traditional Chinese folk music, a Peking Opera medley, and works by contemporary Chinese composers. Compositions performed included Moon over the Mountain Pass, military music from the Tang Dynasty; The Flower Sobs by 20th-century Suzhou Pingtan ballad singer Xu Lixian; and Yan Tieming’s Fishing Song featuring the haunting sound of the bawu. The concert drew a predominantly Asian-American audience from the Chicago metropolitan area, northern Indiana, and Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)