Pan-Asian Festival spotlights Chinese performers in U.S. debuts

Courtesy of the Pan-Asian Music Festival Jindong Cai

Jindong Cai is artistic director of the festival.

Courtesy of the Pan-Asian Music Festival Jin Xing

Jin Xing, above, and her company will perform April 26-27.

Courtesy of the Pan-Asian Music Festival Wang Guo-Tong

Chinese erhu master Wang Guo-Tong is set to perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival will celebrate traditional and contemporary Chinese music and dance.

The two-week series of performances and symposia, which begins April 20, includes the following highlights:

The traditional Chinese kunqu opera Butterfly Dream, featuring Taiwan's Contemporary Legend Theater and the Stanford New Ensemble, will make its U.S. concert premiere at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 20, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. The performance, which blends traditional Chinese and contemporary Western elements, features two of the most famous stars of Chinese opera, Wu Hsing-Kuo and Qian Yi.

China's Jin Xing Dance Theatre, the company formed by the renowned contemporary dancer Jin Xing, will make its U.S. debut at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 26, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in Memorial Auditorium. The performances, including a pageant-like presentation of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, will feature 300 artists onstage, among them the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Symphonic Chorus. The program travels to China in June as part of the cultural events celebrating the Beijing Olympics.

A webcast concert will blend musicians from Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics with Beijing musicians 6,000 miles away in Pacific Rim of Wire at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. The musicians perform together in real time via a webcast. The event marks the premiere of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra.

Chinese rock star Cui Jian performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 4, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. He has been called the godfather of Chinese rock music and is often compared to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

The festival also includes the unique and rarely seen Xianghua Buddhist monks' ceremonial music from southern China at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3, in Memorial Church; Chinese erhu master Wang Guo-Tong at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium; a performance by International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition winner Chen Xi with the Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Jindong Cai, in a program featuring Chinese instruments at 8 p.m. Friday, April 25, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium; and a choral concert, Harmonies from China, by the Shanghai Jiaotong University Chorus at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 1, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

"The best way to understand other cultures is through their art," according to Jindong Cai, the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies at Stanford and the artistic director and founder of the festival. "Though our world is ever more globalized, the things that bring us together are often overlooked, sometimes in favor of politics and conflicts. I hope the festival can contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of the music and people of Asia."

The symposium series includes award-winning documentary films, lectures on the Chinese performing arts by scholars of Chinese studies and demonstrations by performers.

Ticket prices range from $5 to $50. Group discounts are available. Some events are free. Tickets can be ordered online or through the Stanford Ticket Office, (650) 725-2787. A schedule of events, ticket prices for specific events and details about performances and performers are online at http://panasianmusicfestival.stanford.edu.