Performance Ensemble Exchanges
The Global Education Center works with the John J. Cali School of Music to organize performing ensemble exchanges. Past exchanges have included performances by University Singers in Austria and Italy (June 2012), in Russia (May 2008) and in the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Hungary (May 2005) and by the Symphonic Band in Russia (May 2002). In 2008, Russia’s Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory’s Chamber Choir visited Montclair State University to perform Carl Orff’s masterwork, Carmina Burana, with the Montclair State Chorale at NJPAC at the invitation of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra Performs in Shanghai
For a music student, nothing quite surpasses the opportunity to perform on an international stage. For 20 Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra students in the John J. Cali School of Music, that opportunity came through a program with East China Normal University in Shanghai, China initiated by the Global Education Center and MSU orchestra conductor Ken Lam.
The East China Normal University Orchestra previously visited Montclair State University in December 2013 for joint rehearsals and performances in New Jersey. That concert was special not only for the unique performances but for the cross-cultural collaboration afforded by the visit of the 19 Chinese students and five instructors from ECNU. “This is the first time we have ever been joined by such a large group of Chinese student musicians,” said Executive Director of International Affairs Marina Cunningham, noting at the time that ECNU has been a partner institution of Montclair State for more than a decade. “We are pleased to be able to continue our tradition of exchanging music ensembles with partner universities and conservatories.”
The return exchange took place May 23-31, 2015, again coordinated by the Global Education Center with the John J. Cali School. The 20 Montclair State University students and three accompanying MSU faculty members were hosted by the East China Normal University Orchestra for joint performances enjoyed by music audiences in Shanghai. Under the direction of Prof. Ken Lam, Conductor of the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra and Chang Lin, Vice Chair of ECNU’s Music Department, they performed a program that included popular music (“A Salute to the Big Apple”), Chinese and Mongolian songs, an arrangement of Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy for flute and tenor, and other selections. Montclair State University also offered a chamber music concert with performances by students and with Dr. Robert Cart, Director of the Cali School of Music, on flute.
Dr. Cart noted the importance of this exchange, remarking that “other institutions in New Jersey have already established programs with Chinese universities. This, however, is the only one of its kind in the state. Such unique offerings solidify Montclair’s place in the international education community.”
The Cali School of Music has a newly established graduate-level exchange program with ECNU whereby their MFA in Music students may spend their second year at MSU, where they’ll receive an International Artists’ Diploma. At the end of the three-year ECNU MFA in Music, the students who participate in this program will have received both the MFA from ECNU and the International Artists’ Diploma from MSU. This trip to ECNU was, in part, to solidify and recruit for this new initiative.
In addition to the rehearsals and performances with their Chinese peers, the Montclair students also had an opportunity to step out and explore a bit of the cosmopolitan city around them. Many of these students have not traveled to Asia. In fact, several had never been outside of the United States. This trip helped our students cope with the rigors of being traveling artists, while instilling knowledge and understanding of other cultures.
The music of the East and the West filled the Alexander Kasser Theater on December 8 as the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra, joined by musicians from the East China Normal University (ECNU) Symphony Orchestra, presented the annual Beatrice Crawford Memorial Concert.
Featuring works by Chinese composers, the “New World” symphony by Antonin Dvorák and a John J. Cali School of Music-commissioned, world-premiere work by noted American composer Roberto Sierra, the concert was a scintillating mix of East and West, old and new.
In addition to the world premiere of Sierra’s work, El Baille, highlights of the concert included performances of Chinese pieces by members of the ECNU Symphony Orchestra, and a solo performance on the erhu, the bowed, two-stringed Chinese fiddle by the erhu master, Wang Guowei. Director of Orchestral Studies Ken Lam led the orchestra with a guest-conducting appearance by Hou Runyu, music director of ECNU and artistic advisor to the Asian Youth Orchestra.
The concert was special not only for the unique program but for the cross-cultural collaboration afforded by the visit of the 19 students and five instructors from ECNU. “This is the first time we have ever been joined by such a large group of Chinese student musicians,” says Executive Director of International Affairs Marina Cunningham, noting that ECNU has been a partner institution of Montclair State for more than a decade. “We are pleased to be able to continue our tradition of exchanging music ensembles with partner universities and conservatories.”
The ECNU members arrived a week prior to the concert and did much more than just rehearse. They also enjoyed campus tours, educational opportunities, concerts and recitals, outlet shopping and a full day of sightseeing in and around New York City. President Susan A. Cole provided funding to cover the visitor’s expenses during their stay and the ground arrangements were made by the Global Education Center in cooperation with the Cali School.
The Beatrice Memorial Concert is an annual event presented at Montclair State University in memory of Beatrice “Billie” Crawford, a Montclair musician who was the director of two choral groups, The Madrigals and The Choraliers. The concert is supported by a generous grant from the Keating Crawford Foundation.
In June 2012, the Montclair State Vocal Accord 2012 European Tour featured the 24-voice extra-curricular chamber choir, auditioned from the University Singers. Conducted by Dr. Heather J. Buchanan and accompanied by Steven W. Ryan, the Vocal Accord participated in a week-long cultural exchange organized by Montclair State University’s international sister institution, the University of the Performing Arts (KUG )in Graz, Austria. The Vocal Accord performed at the University in Graz and at other venues in Vienna, Graz, Gleisdorf, and Ottendorf, Austria .The Vocal Accord concluded with a concert in the historic Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice, Italy.
The tour was further enhanced by the presence of a film crew from Montclair’s School of Communication and Media. They recorded the complete tour experience, see "American Voice: Montclair State University Vocal Accord's european Tour 2012" Premieres February 26, regarding the documentary release.
In addition to these student performing ensemble exchanges, Montclair State University’s Shanghai Quartet and numerous other faculty performing exchanges have been arranged with the Milan Verdi Conservatory of Music in Italy, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Russia, the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel, Agder University in Norway, East China University in China and the University of the Performing Arts (KUG) in Austria.
View the trailer below: