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On Thursday, February 16, 2017, high school students and teachers from seven Minnesota and Wisconsin high schools attended the Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota’s China Day at Ted Mann Concert Hall. With a theme of Connecting Globally Through Chinese Music, this year’s event featured a performance by the group Butterfly, which features local Chinese pipa soloist Gao Hong, along with vainika and veena virtuoso Nirmala Rajaseka, and cellist Michelle Kenney.
The event began with a solo performance and keynote by Hong, who shared her journey of mastering the pipa, traveling the world, and discovering the power language and music have in creating cross-cultural connections. The audience was enthralled by her performance, which included a demonstration of the pipa mimicking the sounds of raindrops and laughter. Included in Hong’s keynote was the performance of her first self-composed song, "Flying Dragon."
After an engaging and educational keynote, Kenney and Rajasekar joined Hong on stage to provide a unique collaborative of self-composed songs. The Butterfly members then asked the audience for a topic they could use to create an impromptu song. A student presented “Pink Mountain”; the artists then composed a beautiful song inspired by a mountain’s foggy pink peaks.
Several student performances were also featured at the event: Wayzata High School students sung" Pengyou." a Hudson High School student performed "Butterfly Lovers" on cello, and International School of Minnesota students sang and performed a piece on the guzheng.
Speakers at China Day included Dr. Christine Marran, Chair of University's Asian Languages and Literatures Department (ALL), who provided a warm welcome and overview of what the ALL department offers to students; Dr. Ling Wang, Chinese Director of Language Instruction in ALL and Director of Chinese Language for the Chinese Flagship program at the University, who provided insights about Chinese language learning opportunities at the University; and Flagship student Daniel Huset who shared his experience in the program.
This year's winning “Year of the Rooster” China Day t-shirt design was submitted by Wayzata High School student Frederic Lin
Learn more about China Day 2017 artists: