Carleton College will host a rare appearance by the acclaimed Beijing Bamboo Orchestra on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Labeled as the first of its kind, this unique and revered six-member musical ensemble performs on instruments made solely from bamboo. In addition to a performance, the Orchestra will also discuss the history and significance of bamboo for musical expression, an “eco-friendly” material also renowned for its pure and simple sound.
Bamboo is the world’s second-largest plant resource and China is the world’s largest bamboo-producing country. China has a long and rich history in the production of bamboo instruments, which led to the creation of the country’s first bamboo orchestra. Ensemble members are esteemed musicians in their own right, brought together through their shared passion for bamboo.
The Beijing Bamboo Orchestra plays more than 30 kinds of bamboo instruments; some of the instruments are newly made and were designed and patented by the Orchestra themselves. They include the bazooka-shaped paitongqin; the k’longput, a kind of xylophone played by clapping hands quietly to its side; the bamboo charcoal xylophone made with high-temperature heating; the traditional Dan Bau, a single-stringed zither; and a drum set crafted from the world’s largest bamboo.
The Orchestra is known as China’s only “green orchestra” and its members are renowned for the talent and their training. The Bamboo Orchestra has appeared on many major shows, on television, and radio stations broadcast in Beijing and around China, and they have recorded and released five CDs.
Li Zengguang, rated a National Grade-A performer, a member of the China Musicians’ Association, and executive member of the council of China Zhudi Committee. He is currently head of Dizi at the China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra. In addition to releasing his own album of work on the Chinese Dizi, he has performed as a soloist both at home and abroad, including Japan, Thailand, Philippine, and Singapore.
Chen Wei, conductor of the Beijing Bamboo orchestra, is a composer, a percussion player, and also a National Grade-A performer. He has composed and performed a number of bamboo instrument pieces. He has recorded and played on more than ten albums and released his own percussion album, Magic of Percussion. In 2013, he won the best performance award at the Washington, DC Asian Art Festival.
Yi Yongren, also a National Grade-A Performer, is head of the wind instruments and Sheng of the China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra, member of the council of the China Nationalities Orchestra Society, and vice chairman and secretary general of the first session of the China Sheng Committee. Yi has performed in many countries and has won multiple awards for his compositions and solo performances.
Ji Jie is a National Grade-A Performer of Chinese fiddles. He graduated from Tianjin Conservatory of Music and is currently a member of the Chinese Musicians’ Association and executive member of the Council of the China Nationalities Orchestra Society Huqin Committee. Ji is a master of jinghu, banhu, gaohu, mandolin, and other instruments. He has been heads of national-level orchestras and was invited to perform with China Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra as a soloist and leading performer in domestic and international concerts. In 1982, he won the Performance Award at the National Chinese Musical Instruments Competition. In 1995, he led a solo concert in Stuttgart, Germany. China Central Television, Beijing Daily, and the magazine Musical Instrument have featured him numerous time.
Xu Mengge is an erhu performer and Master Degree candidate of the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing. She is the winner of the Gold Award of the “Chinese Recording Cup” International Erhu Invitational Tournament, the Gold Award of Youth Professionals- Group A in the “Youth Music Cup” International Erhu Competition, and the winner of Bronze Award in the CCTV Folk Musical Instrument Competition. She is known for her exquisite and expressive performance style.
Zhang Yukun is a xiao player, a Master’s Degree candidate at Central Conservatory of Music in China, and student of Dai Ya, a renowned Chinese artist. She has won multiple awards and performed in many countries.
Wang Wei, founder of the Beijing Bamboo Orchestra, received honors in the International Bamboo Art Competition held in New Orleans. He has published dozens of professional papers, and his book “Bamboo Musical Instruments” received a national publisher’s award. The orchestra also received the “Excellent Performances Award” in the CCTV Folk Instruments Contest; the “National Service Grass-Roots Advanced Units Award” issued by the Publicity Department, the Ministry of Culture, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, and the General Administration of Press and Publication. They were praised by the Ministry of Culture for its performance in the Shanghai World Expo; and received the National Art Fund in 2015.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4475. The Carleton College Concert Hall is location on First Street, between Winona and Nevada Streets, in Northfield.