explorASIAN Festival Blog

Wednesday, June 4, 2008



The Vancouver premiere of this UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity will present five scenes from the classical repertoire. Included are excerpts from such renowned works as The Peony Pavilion (1598) and The Palace of Long Life(late 17th Century). Opera stars from Shanghai collaborate with members of theVancouver Chinese Music Ensemble as well as New York-based musicians. Kunqu is the oldest form of traditional Chinese theatre still performed today. Incorporating melodious singing with intricate dance, it is a truly comprehensive theatre art.

UBC and the Vancouver Society for Chinese Performing Arts present SCENES FROM KUNJU: CHINA'S CLASSICAL THEATRE By Tang Xianzu et al English subtitles and program


June 16 (The Peony Pavilion, The Lute Song, Lanke Mountain) 7:30pm
June 17 (The Palace of Eternal Youth andThe Butterfly Dream) 7:30pm

Tickets: $17/per evening @ Ticketmaster outlets/phone/online (plus s/c & fees)

Full Details at:

explorASIAN is a Community Partner for this special premiere presentation

Kunqu is the oldest and most literary style of traditional Chinese theatre performed today. It is a synthesis of drama, opera, ballet, poetry recital, and musical recital, which also draws on earlier forms of Chinese theatrical performances such as mime, farce, acrobatics, ballad recital, and medley.

Each word or phrase is also expressed by a stylized movement or gesture that is essentially part of a dance, with strict rules of style and execution much like classical ballet. Even casual gestures must be precisely executed and timed to coordinate with the music and percussion. The refinement of the movement is further enhanced with stylized costumes that also serve as simple props. In a Kunqu performance, three media work simultaneously and in harmony to convey the meaning and desired aesthetic effect: music, words, and dance. An accomplished Kunqu performer must master the special styles of singing and dance movement to convey the meaning. There are two, easily distinguished, styles of text and music. Arias, which are sung and accompanied by the orchestra, are elaborate poems of high literary quality. Prose passages (monologues and dialogues) are neither sung nor spoken but chanted in a stylized fashion comparable to the recitative of Western opera.

Once so popular that a troupe resided in the Forbidden Palace, Kunqu’s literary refinement and high technical demands caused a decline in late dynastic and modern times. Though recognised as a UNESCO Masterpiece of World Heritage, the Kunqu tradition remains under threat, though interest in this invaluable heritage is being renewed among China’s younger generations.

All three performers belong to a legendary generation of Kunqu artists from the Shanghai stage, born in the early forties and dominating the stage in the years after restrictions on the Chinese stage relaxed in the early 1980s. As a group, they represent a direct link between the present-day and the pre-modern tradition.

Liang Guyin (female role) is a National Performer of the PRC, 1st class and a winner of the highest prize awarded to Chinese theatre performers, the Plum Blossom Prize. Trained by pre-revolutionary masters of the art, she has thrilled three generations of audiences with roles ranging from runaway nuns to betrayed women. Considered a consummate master of stage movement, her emotional versatility has brought her acclaim in both the comic and tragic repertoires. Her performances have earned her accolades at home and abroad, with memorable performances including Sackler Museum of Art, the University of Michigan and the Chicago Cultural Center, as well as tours of Japan and Scandinavia.

Ji Zhenhua (old man role) has earned a reputation for having one of Kunqu’s great voices. In the solemn roles Kunqu assigns to older men, he has appeared as avenging magistrates, severe fathers, emperors and chroniclers of history. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, he has built an unparalleled reputation in his role-type, earning, among other awards, the Plum Blossom Prize and being names National Performer of the PRC, 1st class. His innovative interpretation of Macbeth in the first production of a Kunqu Shakespeare play earned him nationwide attention.

Liu Yilong (clown) is one of the traditional stage’s greatest living clowns. Excelling in both good-natured and villainous roles, he has single-handedly brought about a revival in Kunqu’s comedic side. Renowned for his mastery of dialect and comic timing, Mr Liu has earned a great following among fans. And as a National Performer of the PRC, he has worked hard to ensure that a new generations of fans keeps Kunqu fans laughing.

NEW: The Six Faces of Genji: Manga Versions of The Tale of Genji - June 10 - 2:30pm

CBC Radio's Ideas program and UBC's Department of Asian Studies present a lecture entitled "The Six Faces of Genji: Manga Versions of The Tale of Genji " on June 10th, 2;30pm - 4pm at the Asian Centre Auditorium on the UBC Campus (next to the Nitobe Garden).

The Tale of Genji, purportedly the world's first novel ever written, was penned in 11th century Japan by a 30 year-old woman named Murasaki Shikibu and celebrates its thousandth anniversary this year. The Tale of Genji has spawned over 20 manga versions—from instructional tomes for children to shôjo girls, ladies comics, and gag introductory manga.

In "The Six Faces of Genji", professor Lynne Miyake introduces several of these manga, exploring their richness, their special vision, and their contemporary “take” on a beloved tale.

For further information, please visit, or phone 604 822-0019

Monday, June 2, 2008

NEW: Western New Music and Chinese Sensibilities - June 4 - 7pm

The Vancouver Public Library - 350 West Georgia
Alice Mackay room (lower level)
Free admission

In honour of Asian Heritage Month, join us for the fifth program in a six-part series produced by The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO), that aims to shed new light on the art of intercultural music-making. John Oliver, a composer of tremendous experience and much renown in the 'new music' world, has been exploring inter-cultural music making for some years now. He will present a program, together with several of his Chinese musical ollaborators, delving into the ways of creating inter-cultural music with a modern compositional sensibility.

The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra in collaboration with the Vancouver Public Library presents Music of the Whole World Explorations of World Music Cultures by Canadian Composers

A series highlighting the emerging art of intercultural music - Come enjoy an educational evening of music listening, appreciation, and live performance. Music of the Whole World is a free presentation of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) in collaboration with the Vancouver Public Library.

The aim of this six part series is to provide access to educational materials that deal with the art of intercultural music making. Whether you are a veteran composer, a beginning student of music, or simply a music lover wishing to learn more about the many musics of world and the bridges between them, this series is one you will not want to miss.

NEW: Delhi To Dublin - June 5 - 8pm

Asian Heritage Month comes to a stunning end in Richmond with internationally renowned local fusion band 'Delhi To Dublin' playing at the Richmond Cultural Centre. "Richmond is very lucky to be able to attract cutting edge intercultural music of this caliber," says Alan Hill, Cultural Diversity Coordinator.

Delhi To Dublin blends east and west, electronic and acoustic, mainstream and underground. The five member D2D crew takes listeners on a borderless trip through global sounds and synchronicities. The band fuses the traditional sounds of tabla, dhol, fiddle, and sitar with cutting edge DJ aesthetics, to create a highly charged multi-cultural dance celebration.

Originally formed for a one-shot performance during Vancouver's Celtic Fest in March of 2006, word of their foot stomping, high energy live set started to spread, and the project soon took a life of its own. Recently, D2D were invited to open the massive Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa where they collaborated with Irish and Indian dancers and the National Circus School. They have since played many of the West Coast Canadian festivals and are poised to take the act to a global level.

With the able help of global fusion pioneer Adamh Shakh, they've just finished production of their first full length CD. It's getting steady airplay nationwide on the CBC and RJ1200 and has been played recently on BBC's Bobby Friction and Nihal and on Pathaan's Musical Rickshaw.

Richmond Cultural Centre
7700 Minoru Gate, Richmond
Phone: 604-247-8300

For more information or to book tickets call 604- 247-8300.
Tickets are $15 each.