Dialogue on U.S.-China Arts Education 

At the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Culture, eight American artists and educators traveled to China last October to examine with their counterparts there the organization, goals, methods, and context of arts education in the two countries. The conference, conceived as the beginning of an ongoing dialogue, was jointly sponsored by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Chinese Ministries of Culture and Education, and the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange; it was made possible by a grant from RBF.

The idea for such a conference emerged in the spring of 1980, when Vice Minister of Culture Lin Mohan led the first Chinese music and art education delegation to the United States at the invitation of the Center. In conversations with Center director Chou Wen-chung, Lin, a longtime advocate of expanding arts education for China’s youth, voiced the hope that a forum could be created for exploring U.S.-China cooperation in arts education. At the same time, Russell A. Phillips, Jr., executive vice president of RBF, asked Chou to investigate Chinese interest in a conference for educators and administrators in the arts.

Over the next two years, the idea was given shape and substance through the efforts of Lin, Chou, and Phillips. Janice Weinman, a consultant to RBF, worked initially with Phillips to develop a preliminary agenda. In 1982, Lonna B. Jones, arts coordinator in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, and director of awards in art education at RBF, assumed primary responsibility for refining the agenda and selecting appropriate materials to illustrate the American delegates’ presentations. Meanwhile, Lin Mohan and his colleagues planned a program of site visits to arts education institutes in Beijing and Shanghai, ranging from ordinary and “key” kindergartens and primary schools, to middle schools, to special schools affiliated with various art academies. They also selected the Chinese conference participants.

The American delegation comprised school administrators, practicing artists who teach in public schools, and academically trained researchers with a major interest in arts education; Howard Gardner (delegation leader)—Research psychologist at Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center; senior research associate in education and co-director of Project Zero at Harvard University; Terry L. Baker—Consultant to the Pittsburgh Board of Education and the Pittsburgh Foundation; project director, Basic Skills and the Arts Program; and director of performing arts, Community School District 3 in New York City; James L. Byars—Oboist with the New York City Ballet Orchestra and junior high school music teacher; Frederick Erickson—Professor of medicine and education and adjunct professor of anthropology, Michigan State University; Joseph P. Linscomb—Associate superintendent of instruction, Los Angeles Unified School District; Jon J. Murray—Art instructor and art curricula specialist, Mamaroneck High School, New York; Lloyd Nielsen—Superintendent of schools in Roseville, Minnesota; president, American Association of School Administrators, 1982-83; Ann Slavit—Visual artist; former participant in and administrator of the Artists in the Schools program in the Boston area.

Michelle Vosper, the Center’s former program coordinator, served as the delegation’s co-leader and project consultant.

The Chinese conference participants in Beijing included: Wu Zuqiang (delegation leader)—composer and director of the Central Conservatory of Music; Wang Bohua (deputy leader) — Deputy chief of the Education Bureau, Ministry of Culture; Ji Junshi—Administrator in the Department of General Education, Ministry of Education; Li Zhengyi—Deputy director, Beijing Academy of Dance; and member of the Executive Committee, Chinese Dancers Association; Zhan Jianjun—Associate professor of oil painting. Central Academy of Fine Arts; member, board of directors, Chinese Artists Association; Guan Yong—Beijing Opera actor and deputy director, Chinese Opera Academy; Lu Zhengwu—Cadre, Education Bureau, Ministry of Culture; Li Wanyin—Deputy director Music Education Research Office, Beijing Institute of Education; vice chairman and secretary general, Music Education Research Institute of Beijing; and member of the board of directors. Society of Arts and Letters of Beijing; Mi Liming—Music teacher at Beijing’s No. 161 Middle School; member of the board of directors, Beijing Musicians and Dancers Association; and editor of Children’s Music; Wang Kaitin—Principal of Yumin Elementary School, Beijing; and member of the Executive Committee, Beijing Education Research Institute; Wang Liling—Music teacher at Beijing’s Youanmen Elementary School; and member of the Executive Committee, Beijing Music Education Research Institute; Tian Yiran—Teacher at Beijing’s No.5 Kindergarten; and member of the Children’s Education Association.

In addition to the delegates, some 30 observers from various educational organizations in and around Beijing attended the conference. In his opening remarks on October 18 at the Minzu Julebu, delegation leader Wu Zuqiang stressed the importance that China places on professional arts training and general arts education as means of preserving the country’s heritage and developing contemporary art forms with a national character. Wang Bohua spoke on professional arts education, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, as distinguished from general arts education, which falls under the Ministry of Education. Ji Junshi’s survey of types of training available in China’s primary and secondary schools dealt with syllabi and teaching materials, extracurricular arts activities, new programs for leadership and teacher training, and special programs developed for physically handicapped children.

Presentations by the American delegates followed: Lloyd Nielsen gave the Chinese an overview of education in the United States, and Frederick Erickson discussed historical and sociological perspectives on the arts in America. Joseph Linscomb spoke on goals in arts education; Howard Gardner dealt with its psychology and philosophy. Jon Murray reviewed the range of arts curricula in American primary and secondary schools. To illustrate her presentation on the value of bringing artists into the schools, Ann Slavit installed her inflatable sculpture of an acrobat at Beijing’s No. 5 Kindergarten. Terry Baker described methods of evaluating arts education inthe United States, and professional musician James Byars showed how the techniques he uses in teaching New York schoolchildren can be adapted to Chinese classrooms.

At the summary session of the conference, both sides expressed satisfaction with the exchange and discussed preliminary suggestions for follow-up projects. American proposals included: the establishment of a systematic relationship between American and Chinese arts education organizations; school-to-school channels for the exchange of materials in the arts; an orientation program for professional Chinese artists preparing to visit the United States and a reciprocal one for American artists planning to teach or perform in China during sabbaticals; and the translation and annotation of texts on arts education.

The Chinese delegation leader suggested the establishment of channels for regular exchange of information on trends and developments in arts education, the exchange of arts educators for in-depth research and collaboration, and the holding of a second conference to assess artist exchange programs.  

In January, the American delegation reconvened for a two-day review session in New York at which each delegate presented a written assessment of his or her experience. The following excerpts illustrate the wide range of individual reactions. Jon Murray wrote, “The Chinese seem to teach art-making as the application of a specialized set of visual and manual skills—which can best be learned by copying and by practice. This concept of learning skills by rote is common enough in the United States; it is the way most non-art subjects are traditionally taught. But the concept of learning as an open-ended investigation—an exploration of previously unknown possibilities, a process of experimentation and discovery—is uniquely emphasized in many American art programs.”

Said Frederick Erickson, “Even in our brief and partial encounters with the Chinese and with the traditional and Western styles of arts that are current among them, it is apparent that there are differences within the total population in exposure to, knowledge of, and preference for the different styles. To put it more formally, within Chinese society there are differences in the social distribution of artistic knowledge and preference; there appear to be differing intelligibility communities and preference communities in relation to both traditional and Western art styles. (These are analogous to what anthropologists and others call speech communities.) The boundaries between these communities (networks, subpopulations) seem to run along the demographic lines of class, region, and urban or rural residence. In a general way, this pattern resembles the situation in the United States, where lots of the people who know about Merle Haggard (a popular Country and Western singer) are not likely to know about Bach…. To keep the various intelligibility communities alive and growing (and to foster the various art forms preferred by the various communities) requires an infrastructure of institutions and networks. Simply having art forms available, through professional academies that train artists, and through public performances and museums, is not enough. Members of an intelligibility community need to have arts experiences continually and habitually—they need to be able to get to the arts, or have the arts brought to them. That’s not a problem in a primitive village; the arts are there all over daily life. It is a problem in large-scale mass societies such as the United States and the People’s Republic of China.”

Howard Gardner “was struck by major contrasts in the organization, goals, methods, and content of arts education and by certain distinctions in the general context in which arts education occurs. In the United States, the arts are thought of as having something in common, suggesting the existence of a common philosophy, and schools make an effort to relate arts education to other parts of the curriculum. In China, there seems to be no overt linkage among the different arts or between arts education and general education. We had the impression that Chinese children were trained first to master specific skills through recreation or copying of models, including masterpieces, with original conceptions emerging subsequent to the cultivation of technical skills, whereas the goal of arts educators in this country is first the development of the individual’s spontaneous and original responses and products, with skill-building seen as a later step—one which grows out of, and is optimally prompted by, the child’s desire to realize his own conceptions more fully.”

On his trip to China in March, Professor Chou gave the Chinese delegation leaders a preliminary report based on the review session. He also arranged for meetings in Beijing in May between officials of the Ministry of Culture and David Rockefeller, Jr., chairman of the RBF Executive Committee, who presented a complete written report by the American delegation and discussed follow-up projects.   

Chinese Artists In America

Farewell to Chen Xieyang  

Our last report on the visit to the United States of the Shanghai Ballet Orchestra’s conductor, Chen Xie yang, left off in May 1982, nine months after the maestro’ s arrival in New York. At that time, Chen’s one year program, funded by the Asian Cultural Council, was drawing to a close, but the pace of his activities was picking up. 

In May, Chen returned to New York after a month of professional activities on the West Coast – observing orchestra rehearsals, attending performances, and meeting with musicians and administrators of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Before the month was over, he left for New Haven to study privately with Maestro Otto Mueller, the distinguished teacher of conducting, and then went on to the Berkshires to pay a return visit to the Boston Symphony at its summer home. 

Returning to New York in mid-July, Chen plunged into preparations for a concert tour that took him to five cities on two continents before his return to Shanghai last fall. The first series of concerts, with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, took place in New York. Chen shared the podium on three occasions with Cuban-born Tania Leon, director of the orchestra’s Community Concert Series. 

The international flavor of their collaborative effort was enhanced by the program, which featured works by four Chinese composers. Chamber Symphony is a work by the young Shanghai composer Ge Ganru; Journey was written by Lam Man-yee, a resident of Hong Kong; the composer of Long Tao Sha, Lu Yen, lives in Taipei; and Yu Ko is the work of Chou Wen-chung, director of the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange. The concerts played to large crowds at the American Museum of Natural History, the PepsiCo Summerfare Festival on the campus of SUNY at Purchase, and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, affording thousands of people their first taste of contemporary Chinese orchestral music. They were also Chen Xieyang’s farewell performances in New York. 

The Aspen Music Festival in Colorado was his next stop. Chen’s visit coincided with the arrival from China of a violinists delegation, also sponsored by the Center. Over the next few weeks, the festival acquired a distinctly Chinese atmosphere. For his concert at Aspen on August 18, Chen combined Western and Chinese music: Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73 and Mozart’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, K. 218 shared the program with Hwun (Spirit): A Ballet Suite, the work of Xi Qiming, a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and a colleague of Chen’s at the Shanghai Ballet Orchestra.

From Aspen, Chen flew to Hawaii for a concert with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. The program, planned jointly by the Center, Maestro Donald Johanos of the orchestra, and Douglas Murray, vice president of the East-West Center, featured Spring Festival Overture by Li Huanzhi, vice chairman of China’s Musicians Association; Thoughts by the Shanghai composer Lin Dehong; Fantasy Symphony, the work of Tan Dun, a student at Beijing’s Central Conservatory; and another of Chou Wen-chung’s compositions, And the Fallen Petals. The full house of invited guests gave Chen a standing ovation. 

The last two stops on the tour brought Chen back to Asia. In Manila, at the invitation of Dr. Lucrecia Kasilag, director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Chen appeared twice as guest conductor of the CCP’s orchestra. While in Manila, he was invited by Dean Ramon P. Santos of the College of Music at the University of the Philippines to speak to the faculty on developments in contemporary music in China. In Hong Kong, his final stop before returning home, Chen conducted two concerts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. The programs for his Manila and Hong Kong concerts were the same, combining Western music (Berlioz’s Roman Carnival and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4) with new Chinese music (Lin Dehong’s Thoughts and Xi Qiming’s Spirit). 

Coming at the end of a year of study, observation, and performance, these concerts showed Chen at the peak of his confidence—testimony to the success of a program that provided the young conductor with the opportunity to mature into an artist of international stature. 

In mid-October, Chen Xieyang returned home, possibly with more professional experience and exposure than any other Chinese conductor of his generation. Since then, he has been appointed guest conductor of the Central Philharmonic and the Shanghai Symphony, the two best orchestras in China, while maintaining his post at the Shanghai Ballet Orchestra. As a proponent of new Chinese orchestral music, he is likely to have a profound Impact on the development of music in China—and perhaps the world—in the years to come.  

Master Teachers and Promising Students  

The heady environment— artistically and altitudinally—of the Aspen Music Festival was the first stop in America for a delegation of five women violinists from China, whose visit here late last summer and into the fall of 1982 was sponsored by the Center. According to Professor Chou Wenchung, it was “mere happenstance” that all of the violinists were women, “but it does point out that more and more women in China are taking up the study of Western music.” 

Dorothy DeLay with violin students Guo Li (left) and Yu Yen (right) at the Aspen Music School
Dorothy DeLay with violin students Guo Li (left) and Yu Yen (right) at the Aspen Music School

Three of the five were mature artists and teachers: Yu Lina, lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and a soloist well known in China for her performances of the concerto known as “The Butterfly Lovers”; Huang Xiaozhi, lecturer at the Central Conservatory in Beijing and a soloist; and Ding Zhinuo, lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory and a composer of works for chamber ensemble. (Although Ding was coming to the United States under the sponsorship of the Chinese government for a year of study as an exchange scholar, the Center was able to arrange for her to participate in the three-month program with her colleagues.) The other two were students—Guo Li of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Yu Yen of the Hubei Arts Academy. Guo and Yu, both 19 years old, were two of the most promising students auditioned in China by violin teacher Dorothy DeLay during her 1981 Center-sponsored visit; both received scholarships to study with DeLay in 1982-83 at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

In designing a program for the teachers and students, the Center sought to provide a comprehensive view of contemporary music education in America in various regions and at various levels, ranging from grade school through college and conservatory to postgraduate training for professionals. 

In Aspen, the visitors had their first encounter with American musicians of the highest caliber. As guests of Gordon Hardy, president of the Aspen Music Festival, and the administrators and staff of the Aspen Music School, the teachers observed classroom instruction and attended workshops and rehearsals. The students received daily instruction from Kurt Sassmannshaus, who would be their principal teacher at the College-Conservatory of Music. 

The three teachers gave a recital on August 19. Huang Xiaozhi, accompanied on the piano by Scott Faigen, played a selection of traditional Chinese songs, and Yu Lina performed “The Butterfly Lovers” concerto (a composition by Center alumnus Chen Gang) with Chen Xieyang conducting the orchestra of the Aspen Music School. They also gave a lecture-demonstration on violin teaching methods in China and Chinese music education in general.

Between lessons, workshops, rehearsals, and performances, the musicians met new friends, sampled American fast foods, went horse back riding, and were introduced to rafting on the Colorado River by the Aspen Music Festival staff and administrators. Chen Xieyang joined the violinists for meals and weekend outings after he arrived in Aspen, fielding questions from the new comers about his experiences in America, while peppering them with questions of his own about mutual acquaintances and musical developments in China since his departure nearly a year before. 

The visit at Aspen ended with a display of culinary rather than musical art; the teachers and students combined their talents to produce a Chinese banquet for the members of the Festival’s orchestra and staff, and friends and supporters of the Aspen Music School, including Colorado Lieutenant Governor Nancy Dicks. 

From Aspen the violinists flew to the nation’s capital, staying for a week at the home of Center Advisory Council member Henry P.  Sailer. There they enjoyed sightseeing expeditions to the White House, major museums, and historic sites, as well as concerts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at Wolf Trap Farm Park. 

At the end of August the delegation headed for New York and two weeks of intensive professional activity. The highlights included guided tours of the musical instruments collection and restoration facilities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center’s library and facilities, and the workshops and showrooms of makers of world-famous musical instruments: Jacques Francais Rare Violins, Stradivarius Studios, Salchow’s Bow Shop, and Steinway & Sons.

The violinists also met with composers and performers in the city, and visited major music publishers, such as G. Schirmer, Inc., C. F. Peters Corporation, and Carl Fischer, Inc., to examine and obtain scores, tapes, and other professional materials that are currently unavailable in China. A stop at the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) gave the visitors an introduction to U.S. copyright laws and the protection they afford artists and their work. 

Professor of violin Leonard Felberg examines a Chinese-made instrument with (left to right) Huang Xiaozhi, Yu Lina, and Ding Zhinuo following the Chinese teachers' performance at the University of New Mexico
Professor of violin Leonard Felberg examines a Chinese-made instrument with (left to right) Huang Xiaozhi, Yu Lina, and Ding Zhinuo following the Chinese teachers' performance at the University of New Mexico

New York was not all serious business, however. The violinists attended performances of “A Chorus Line,” Radio City Music Hall’s 50th Anniversary show “Encore,” and dress rehearsals of the Metropolitan  Opera’s La Gioconda and The Magic Flute. In addition, they toured Soho, Little Italy, Chinatown, and Central Park, and enjoyed a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan. 

In mid-September, Guo Li and Yu Yen left for Ohio and classes at the College-Conservatory of Music. The teachers spent the next two weeks meeting with administrators, professors, and students at New York’s leading music schools—Juilliard, Mannes, Manhattan, and SUNY at Purchase. This was, in a sense, a dress rehearsal for the tour of conservatories and university music departments across the country that the Center arranged for them in October.* 

At each institution, the teachers received introductions to the course offerings and teaching philosophy and were invited to observe and participate in chamber ensemble or orchestra rehearsals. At Yale, Willie Ruff, the professor and noted jazz musician who visited Shanghai in 1981, welcomed the teachers and escorted them during most of their stay, delighting them with his fluent Chinese. The New England Conservatory of Music not only coordinated their stay in the Boston area, but arranged for them to attend the Boston Symphony’s opening concert of the season and meet Maestro Seiji  Ozawa. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which was involved in contract negotiations when the teachers visited, presented them with a set of its recordings in lieu of a live performance. The University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, where the music department emphasizes secondary school music education, arranged for the teachers to tour the city’s public schools and to participate in a radio interview on KHFM to discuss Chinese music. Through the personal efforts of the Center’s director, the teachers met master violinist Jascha Heifetz at his home in Los Angeles. 

The benefits of such a tour were not one-sided. The general enthusiasm that greeted the teachers’ lecture-demonstrations suggests that there is great interest in this country in the new music from China, which is gradually becoming accessible through the systematic exchange of artists and materials.

When the tour ended in San Francisco, Yu Lina and Huang Xiaozhi returned to China, where they are drawing on what they learned in America in working with their students. Having been exposed to music education here, they are in a better position to advise and prepare their students who might eventually come to the United States for further training. Ding Zhinuo returned to New York, where the Center arranged for her to audit courses in the history of ensemble and orchestral music, composition, and music theory at Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia University.

The violinists program was made possible by a grant from Mr. and Mrs. George D. O’Neill, with additional funding provided by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia and Mrs. Robert Tangeman.

On their itinerary were the Yale School of Music, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Boston University, the New England Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, the College-Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, California Institute of the Arts, University of Missouri, University of New Mexico, University of Southern California, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 

Portrait of An Artist 

Yuan Yunsheng, one of China’s foremost contemporary artists and an associate professor of mural and oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, visited the United States last fall as a guest of the United States Information Agency (USIA). At the agency’s request, the Center designed a six week program for the artist in New York and Boston with funding from the Asian Cultural Council. 

Before coming to New York late last September, Yuan visited various cities across the country under the auspices of the USIA and spent three weeks as guest artist-in-residence at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. On arriving in New York he was eager to see as much as possible of the collections of major museums and galleries, as well as recent works by contemporary American artists working in various media. The Center’s program, drawing on the wealth of cultural resources concentrated in New York City, gave him that intensive exposure and the opportunity to reflect on and discuss what he saw and experienced with artists, art instructors, collectors, critics, and museum curators. 

Among the artists who welcomed Yuan to their studios and homes were: Anneli Arms, Will Barnet, Friedel Dzubas, Helen Frankenthaler, Jorge Gentilini, Balcomb Greene, Robert Gwathmey, Al Held, Brant Kingman, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Ibram Lassaw, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, and Sylvia Stone.

Yuan speaks no English and communicated entirely through interpreters, but these meetings were fascinating for the artist and his interlocutors. Although Yuan had never traveled outside of China before this trip, his knowledge of the traditions, development, and schools of Western art is impressive and he was able to appreciate and comment with authority and eloquence on the art he saw. His own ink and wash paintings, drawings, etchings, paintings on ceramics, and the slides of his controversial mural at Beijing’s International Airport drew high praise and provoked many lively discussions. (For more on Yuan’s mural, “Water Festival—Song of Life,” see the article by Joan Lebold Cohen in ArtNews, Summer 1980.) Yuan also used these materials to illustrate his lectures at Cityarts Workshop, Columbia University’s East Asian Institute, the school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Institute of Contemporary Art. 

Although some of his more recent work has been called abstract, Yuan’s art reflects a solid grounding in and appreciation of traditional forms and techniques. Yuan practices what he teaches his students: an artist must learn and master thoroughly the fundamentals of line, design, and perspective before he or she has the expertise to give true artistic expression to the creative impulse. 

While Yuan was still in New York, two of his paintings were included in the exhibit “Painting the Chinese Dream: Chinese Art Thirty Years After the Revolution,” which traveled to Smith College and to Boston’s City Hall. A private showing of his works was also arranged by author Bette Bao Lord and Winston Lord, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

When the Center’s program for Yuan Yunsheng ended last November, the University of Northern Iowa invited him to return to Cedar Falls for two months as guest artist-in-residence.  

Honors for New Segal Work 

Sculptor George Segal visited China in 1981 with the Center’s Delegation of Prominent American Artists. Last October, he showed Yuan Yunsheng a work he had just completed as his entry for San Francisco’s Memorial to the Six Million Victims of the Holocaust. This January the committee appointed by Mayor Dianne Feinstein unanimously voted Segal’s entry the winner. Cast in bronze, the sculpture will be installed near San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor.  

Yuan Yunsheng and George Segal with part of Segal's sculpture, "The Holocaust"
Yuan Yunsheng and George Segal with part of Segal's sculpture, "The Holocaust"

Columbia’s First Henry Luce Visiting Fellow

This spring, students of Chinese musicology at Columbia University enjoyed the opportunity to work with Professor Yin Falu, an expert on the music of the Tang and Song dynasties and on the role of music in China’s relations with its neighbors during that “Golden Age.” 

Professor Yin, the first Henry Luce Visiting Fellow at Columbia University, arrived in New York last November to begin his six-month residency. At the request of Professor R. Handle Edwards, chairman of Columbia’s China Exchange Committee and administrator of the Henry Luce Fellowship program at the university, Yin’s professional activities were arranged by Chou Wen-chung, in cooperation with Professor Dieter Christensen, curator of Columbia’s Center for Ethnomusicological Studies.

During his stay, Yin conducted research on developments in ethnomusicology in the West and appeared regularly as a guest in Chou’s graduate seminar on the music of China. Several students in the seminar, which focused on the compilation and proper interpretation of terms in Chinese musicology, carried out research projects under Yin’s supervision.

In addition, Yin lectured at Columbia, Harvard, the University of Maryland in Baltimore County, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Washington on Chinese music in early written and pictorial sources. 

A 1938 graduate of Beijing University, Yin now teaches in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at his alma mater. His many publications include The Origin and Structure of the Daqu Form of the Tang and Song Dynasties (1945), Cultural Relations Between China and India As Seen Through Musical History (1956), and A Study of the Songs Composed by Jiang Baishi of the Song Dynasty (1957), a work he co-authored with Yang Yinliu, China’s most respected musicologist.   

Words on Words: A Writers’ Forum 

Readership, royalties, and the responsibility of the writer in contemporary society were among the topics covered at a conference of six leading Chinese writers and seven American authors that the Center sponsored last October 11. 

Theodore Solotaroff, author and senior editor at Harper & Row, served as moderator for the discussion dealing with the current state of literature and the writer’s profession in China and in the United States. Chinese delegation leader Feng Mu, literary editor and vice chairman of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, recounted the plight of Chinese writers and intellectuals during the ten-year cultural revolution and exulted at the flourishing of works of all genres since the removal of “ideological shackles.”

The Americans told of writers who were “blacklisted” during the McCarthy years, the works spawned by the social upheavals of the 1960s and the searing experience of the war in Vietnam, agents’ fees and authors’ contracts, and the numbers of young writers in this country who support themselves by waiting on tables or driving cabs. The Chinese writers were intrigued when told how-to books, diet books, and cook books frequently head bestseller lists, and their American colleagues sighed wistfully when informed that first printings of works by even moderately popular Chinese authors often exceed three million copies— albeit in a country with one billion people. The emergence of important women writers, the training and development of young writers, and changing perceptions of the factors that motivate writers were also discussed during the three-hour session.

In addition to Feng Mu, the Chinese delegation included Wu Qiang, Li Ying, Li Zhun, Jiang Zilong, Zhang Jie—all well known in China for their novels, poems, plays, short stories, and film scripts; Fan Baoci, an official of the Chinese Writers Association; and interpreter Yuan Henian, associate professor of English at Beijing’s Foreign Languages Institute.

The American participants included: Jonathan Baumbach, novelist and chairman of the National Society of Film Critics; Hortense Calisher, novelist and short story writer; Daniel Halpern, poet and chairman of the Writing Division at Columbia’s School of the Arts; Curtis Harnack, writer and executive director of Yaddo, the retreat for artists in Saratoga Springs; Paule Marshall, novelist; and Robert Towers, novelist, critic, and professor of English at Queens College. Interpreting for the Americans was Donald Chang, senior lecturer in East Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia.

At the luncheon following the conference, the Center presented the Chinese delegation with books donated by Arbor House, Ecco Press, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 

The Chinese writers, who had previously participated in a conference at UCLA, were hosted on the east coast by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

American Artists In China 

Focus on Technique

Bass-baritone Daniel Ferro, a faculty member at the Juilliard School of Music and former chairman of the voice department at the Manhattan School of Music, has trained students who are now performing leading roles in every major opera house from La Scala to the Met and has taught at leading conservatories around the world. 

In 1982, the Center arranged for the Chinese Ministry of Culture to invite Ferro to conduct three weeks of master classes at the Shanghai Conservatory. Funding for his trip was provided by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation. Ferro brought with him donated tapes, records, scores, and books on lyric diction and operatic techniques. 

Daniel Ferro with voice student Zhang Jiayi during master classes at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music
Daniel Ferro with voice student Zhang Jiayi during master classes at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music

Ferro’s visit had been awaited with great interest. During the ten-year cultural revolution, there was virtually no training in Western opera in China. Ferro found the voice department at the Shanghai Conservatory full of eager students who, though inexperienced, possessed “wonderful musical instinct.”

The conservatory’s deputy director, Zhou Xiaoyan, selected a group of her best students to audition for Ferro. From these he chose 13 for three weeks of intensive coaching, concentrating on balance of registers, breathing, phrasing, and lyric diction. 

Each day, in the sweltering August heat, more than 150 students, teachers, and professional singers crowded into the auditorium where the classes were held. Most sessions were videotaped for viewing by hundreds more. Deputy directors Zhou Xiaoyan and Ding Shande and other faculty members who had been trained in the West translated for Ferro. 

At the end of the three weeks, Ferro’s handpicked students gave a recital attended by over 800 people. All of the works on the program— duets from La Boheme, La Forza del Destino, Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, standard Italian arias, and art songs by Chausson, Wolf, Schubert, and Vaughn Williams—were prepared in the master classes and sung in their original languages. 

Encore for Anderson 

Ronald Anderson’s Center-sponsored visit to the Central Philharmonic Orchestra in the summer of 1981 was so well received that he was invited to return for a second teaching visit last summer. The principal trumpet player of the New York City Ballet Orchestra spent August and September in Beijing, honing the technique and expanding the repertoire of the CPO’s brass section. Anderson found that his work of the previous summer had borne fruit. The brass quintet he coached had acquired a strong sense of identity and was playing well and with confidence. The improvement was evident in a concert on September 2, one of the CPO’s weekly performances, which featured works by Bach and the first performances in China of Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Octet for Wind Instruments.

As in 1981, Anderson not only taught and rehearsed with the CPO but also performed. At the orchestra’s invitation, he joined them on tour as a soloist for a concert in Wuhan.

Back in Beijing, the People’s Liberation Army invited him to give a lecture-demonstration at its music school. On that occasion, Anderson offered program suggestions for band concerts featuring Western composers.

On his first visit to China, Anderson discovered that the orchestra’s brass players lacked quality mutes and mouthpieces for their instruments. On his most recent visit, he brought a complete set of mutes that were donated by American companies or purchased with funds from the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation. Anderson also brought quantities of scores of 16th century Venetian compositions for brass instruments to train Chinese musicians in the traditions and techniques of playing old music, which is enjoying, according to Anderson, “an explosion of interest” in China.

Finding China’s exposure to contemporary Western music still limited, Anderson helped the CPO  develop a series of concerts patterned after the New York Philharmonic’s Concerts for Young People. He also explored with the orchestra the feasibility of organizing regular workshops where professional Chinese musicians can listen to recordings of contemporary Western works or watch videotapes of Western musicians playing such works while simultaneously following the scores.

On his return, Anderson told the Center that he feels his work in China has just begun. He hopes to make a third visit in 1985—the tercentennial of J. S. Bach’s birth—for which he is already dreaming of “a magnificent performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor, involving the full  orchestra and CPO chorus. . . singing in German, of course, because Felicitas [Anderson’s German-born wife] would be along to coach them.”  

The Golden Sound of Brass

The distinguished American Brass Quintet, the oldest ensemble of its kind in the United States, visited China last October at the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Culture for two weeks of lectures and performances in Beijing and Shanghai. The five players—bass trombonist Robert Biddlecome, tenor trombonist Ronald Borror, trumpet players Chris Gekker and Raymond Mase, and horn player David Wakefield flew to Beijing after a concert tour of Japan.

At the Central Conservatory of Music, where the quintet gave its first concert on October 13, an audience consisting largely of students and faculty heard works spanning four centuries—from Two Fancies by Renaissance composer Giovanni Caperario to a contemporary piece by Ingolf Dahl. On the two following days, the quintet performed at Beijing’s Hongta Theater. Those performances, featuring works by Gabrieli and Holborne as well as Elliott Carter and William Lovelock, earned the quintet eight curtain calls and an unusually lengthy review in the Beijing Wan Bao (Beijing Evening News).

In Shanghai, two concerts arranged by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music were equally well received. The reviewer for Jie Fang Ri Bao (Liberation Daily praised the quintet’s “exquisite tone, melodic expressiveness, smoothness, and lyrical quality.” Between performances, the quintet gave master classes, listened to performances by conservatory students and faculty, and swapped music with Chinese musicians.

Bestseller in Translation

In the more than 30 years since Herman Wouk began writing, he has gained a vast following all over the world. However, it was not until Wouk visited China last fall that he learned he is the most widely read foreign author in that country. In China, where paper is scarce and large editions of foreign novels rare, there are more than one million copies of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance in print.

Such extensive circulation was gratifying, but Wouk wrote on his return, “for me what mattered most were the sharp, perceptive questions at my lectures and talks, which showed how carefully the questioners had read my thoroughly American novels, and how relevant they had found them to their lives in an almost unimaginably different society. It may have been the greatest satisfaction of my literary career, this testimony that my work had touched chords of common humanity in our two peoples, whose friendship has survived and over come decades of political alienation.”

Wouk, a member of the Center’s Advisory Council, made the trip last October with his wife, Betty. Their visit, arranged by the Center with the cooperation of the Chinese Writers Association, took them to Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Shanghai, and Kaifeng for lectures, conferences, meetings, and sightseeing. Through out their trip, the Wouks were escorted by Qu Bo, author of the popular novel The Track in the Snowy Forest, and Wang Yuanjian, scenarist of the prize-winning film Sparkling Red Star.

In addition to giving lectures on modern literature at Beijing University and Shanghai’s Fudan University, Wouk held many informal discussions with students he met. The State Department had arranged to ship 16mm prints of The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar to China, and these adaptations of early Wouk novels were screened for audiences of writers, artists, filmmakers, and critics in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian.

Wouk’s three years as a U.S. Navy officer in the Pacific during World War II provided much of the back ground for his books. On this trip, he had the opportunity to explore his interest in naval matters and reminisce about the war in the Pacific with a group of senior officers from the Chinese Navy. 

Despite official reservations about the policies of the Israeli government, Wouk’s Chinese hosts were impressed by his deep commitment to the Jewish faith and Jewish culture. Several told him his books gave many Chinese their first inkling of the Holocaust and the modern Jewish experience.

Upon his return home, Wouk wrote; “If there was one real surprise of the journey, it was our discovery of the Chinese people themselves. In literature and even in journalism, they tend to be presented as inscrutable, forbidding, and weighed down by sufferings. We, on the contrary, found a likable and friendly people, warm to strangers, with a high regard for Americans, and charming by their cheeriness and humor.”

A Fashion Trade 

Theresa Reilly, the first specialist in fashion and textile design sponsored by the Center, taught for three weeks this spring in Beijing at the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts. Reilly, a professor in the Fashion Design Department of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and a fashion columnist, created FITs “History of Fashion” course in 1972.

One of America’s leading experts on historical and contemporary Chinese costume and its influence on Western fashion, Reilly has lectured at the China Institute in America, The Asia Society, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

At the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Reilly gave a series of lectures on fashion design and the fashion industry in the United States and on the influence of traditional Chinese designs on textiles, apparel, and accessories produced in the West. She brought to China a collection of slides and samples of work by FIT students, textiles, and other materials that were exhibited at the Institute. During her stay, Reilly also researched the traditional costumes of national minorities.

A Wish Fulfilled 

Stage and screen actor Arnold Moss was scheduled to visit China with his wife, Stella, and a tour group of 31 last fall. Moss had expressed to the Center and to Chen Baoshu, consul for cultural affairs at the Chinese Consulate in New York, his wish to meet with film and stage actors, directors, playwrights, critics, and other theater professionals during the three-week trip. In the actor’s own words, “I was not convinced that much would come of our combined efforts.” To his great surprise and pleasure, his wish was not only granted, but surpassed.

On arriving in Beijing, the Mosses were greeted by two representatives of the Chinese Dramatists Association, Zhou Baoyou and secretary general Liu Housheng. Much to the envy of their traveling companions and the delight of the Mosses, Zhou and Liu welcomed them warmly and announced that arrangements had been made for the couple to attend a performance of the Beijing Opera the following evening as guests of the Dramatists Association.

In this first encounter with Chinese theater, the Mosses were accompanied by an interpreter who kept them abreast of the plot by whispering a running translation. They came away enchanted by the performance, which Moss recalls as “magnificently designed and costumed and brilliantly played.” 

Two days later, the Mosses were guests of honor at a banquet attended by, among others: Liu Housheng and Zhou Baoyou; Zhao Xun, vice chairman of the Chinese Dramatists Association; Chen Yong, director of the China Youth Art Theater; Cheng Jihua, secretary of the China Film Association and vice president of the Chinese Society of Film Critics; and Xu Nanming, vice president and associate editor-in-chief of the China Film Press.

After the banquet, the Mosses were whisked off by Chen Yong to the China Youth Art Theater for a private performance of “Hong Bizi” (Red Nose). Touched by the kindness and generosity of his hosts and the power of the performance he had just witnessed, Arnold Moss reciprocated by giving a soliloquy from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and another from “King Lear.”

In a letter to the Center after his return. Moss wrote, “When I had finished, there was a burst of applause and I found myself being embraced lovingly and with tenderness by the director and her leading players…. If I had ever had any doubts about the power of the arts— particularly the performing arts—to cement people and nations together in friendship, cooperation, and peace, those doubts were in large measure dispelled. . . .”

Recently appointed a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the academic year 1983-84, Moss says his fondest wish now is to return to China to lecture and train professional actors in the techniques of playing Shakespeare, culminating in a full-scale production of a Shakespearean play in Chinese. 

Segal Joins Advisory Council

Martin E. Segal, chairman of the Board of Directors of Lincoln Center and former chairman of New York City’s Commission for Cultural Affairs, was appointed to the Center’s Advisory Council in December 1982 by Columbia University President Michael I. Sovern. Segal’s appointment extends through September 1, 1985. His association with the Center dates back to March 1979, when he and Professor Chou led one of the Center’s first delegations of professionals in the arts to China.

Salesman in Beijing

Arthur Miller’s celebrated salesman, Willy Loman, is treading the boards at the Beijing People’s Art Theater this spring, but he is speaking his lines in Mandarin. Playing Willy is China’s leading actor, Ying Ruocheng—who was seen by millions of Americans in 1982 as Kublai Khan in the NBC mini – series “Marco Polo”—and directing him in this production is Arthur Miller himself. 

Over lunch at New York's Sichuan Pavilion Restaurant, Ying Ruocheng and Arthur Miller discuss staging for the Beijing production of "Death of a Salesman"
Over lunch at New York's Sichuan Pavilion Restaurant, Ying Ruocheng and Arthur Miller discuss staging for the Beijing production of "Death of a Salesman"

The idea for this unique collaborative venture grew out of a conversation between Miller, Center director Chou Wen-chung, Chinese play wright Cao Yu, and Ying Ruocheng when Cao and Ying visited New York in 1980 as guests of the Center. But it was to be 15 months before the idea began to take form (during Chou’s trip to China in the winter of 1981-82), and there were many more months of correspondence, phone calls, and meetings involving Miller, the Center, the Chinese Dramatists Association, and the People’s Art Theater before preproduction began in earnest.

Ying, who was in the United States for four months in the fall of 1982 as Edgar Snow Visiting Professor of Theater at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, began to prepare a new translation of the script, while the Center secured and sent to Beijing set designs and photographs of previous productions, tapes of the incidental music, and stage props unavailable in China such as a football, helmet, and shoulder pads.

Miller has eagerly anticipated the experience of directing his prizewinning 1949 play with an all-Chinese cast and crew. “Believe it or not,” he told the Center before he flew to Beijing, “this is the first time I’ll be fully involved in directing ‘Salesman’ in any language.” (Twice in this country. Miller has been asked to work out problems with productions directed by someone else.) “It is going to be a fascinating anthropological experience… a real challenge.”

Miller is no stranger to China, having first visited that country in the fall of 1978 with his Austrian born wife, photographer Inge Morath. On that trip, the Millers met many luminaries in Chinese theater—including Cao Yu, Ying Ruocheng, actor-director Jin Shan, and director Huang Zuolin.

Miller’s notes from that trip and Morath’s photographs were subsequently published as a book, Chinese Encounters (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979).

This spring the Millers again traveled and worked as a team. Morath’s photographic record of the production and the journal that Miller kept during the six weeks of rehearsals are slated for publication in a volume with the tentative title, “Salesman in Beijing.”

To coincide with the premiere of “Death of a Salesman” on May 7, the Center organized a two-week tour of China that included professional visits to leading music, art, dance, and drama academies. Among the distinguished members of the delegation were Alex North, composer of the music for “Salesman,” writers Louis Auchincloss and Leslie Glass, British fashion designer Jean Muir, and Geraldine Stutz,  who is president of Henri Bendel, Inc. and a member of the National Arts Council.

Viola Virtuoso 

Violist John Graham has been described by the San Francisco Examiner as “a mature, brilliant master of his instrument, a real virtuoso” and by the New York Times as “one of the stars of his firmament.” He appears regularly as a soloist with many of the country’s best known chamber ensembles, and teaches at the Mannes College of Music and at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Last fall, Graham requested the Center’s assistance in arranging a six-month teaching appointment at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music. Because so little published music for the viola is available in China, Graham also asked the Center to help obtain donations of scores from American music publishers. Most publishers responded generously; some even waived rental fees on orchestra parts for the works that he hopes to have performed by his students.

Graham will also encourage composers in China to pay more attention to the viola. The Center has arranged with the Chinese Musicians Association for Chinese composers to submit new work for solo viola to Graham during his stay. He will bring the best of these compositions back to the United States where he intends to introduce them to American audiences.

Behind the Scenes 

Who arranged for the filming of “From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China,” or for Arthur Miller to direct a Chinese production of “Death of a Salesman”? How are Chinese artists selected to come to the United States? These questions might best be answered by following Center director Chou Wen-chung on one of his recent trips to Asia. For six weeks during the winter of 1981-82, Chou traveled to Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai, meeting with officials, artists, and arts educators at every stop. And everywhere Chou went, ideas for Center programs were conceived, negotiated, and planned.

For many years, artists in Taiwan had wanted Chou to visit, but last winter was the first time a trip could be arranged. In addition to holding seminars and workshops and meeting with artists and musicians, Chou had private discussions with Taiwanese officials, including both the Prime Minister and Party Secretary. These conversations were friendly yet frank in addressing cultural issues faced by China today. In all the discussions, the Taiwanese expressed great interest in artistic developments on the mainland and abroad. It was clear that artists in Taiwan, anxious to have more meaningful contacts with their colleagues else where, feel the Center can facilitate such increased exposure.

In Hong Kong, Chou’s discussions with government and private agency officials concerned the Center ‘s potential role in bringing together artists from the United States, China, and other Asian countries at this natural crossroads of the Far East. As a result of these discussions, the Center was able to confirm concert engagements in Hong Kong for pianist Jacob Lateiner following his successful tour in China, and for Shanghai conductor Chen Xieyang on his way back from the United States. In the same manner, Chou laid the groundwork for Chen’s concert with the orchestra of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and his talk at the University of the Philippines.

On January 14, 1982, Chou flew from Hong Kong to Beijing for a week of intensive meetings with officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Culture, and the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles (CFLAC)—the Center’s official counterpart organization in China— as well as the professional arts associations under CFLAC. Among those most closely involved in these discussions were: Zhou Weishi, Minister of Culture, and Lin Mohan, Vice Minister; Zhang Wenjin, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs; Yan Liangkun, the new president of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra; Li Ling, vice chairman of the Musicians Association; Feng Mu, vice chairman of the Writers Association; Wu Zuqiang, deputy director of the Central Conservatory of Music; Zhang Ding, president of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts; and Lu Shi and Xia Yan, secretary general and vice chairman, respectively, of CFLAC.

In all instances, discussion focused on the unresolved political and economic differences between the United States and China, especially those precipitated by American arms sales to Taiwan, and their effect on U.S.-China cultural exchange. While the enthusiasm of the Chinese officials was undiminished, the planned visit to the United States of a prominent cultural leader as a guest of the Center had to be postponed.

But most of the Center’s programs proceeded unimpeded. Arrangements were confirmed for a delegation of women violinists to tour the United States and for Beijing University professor Yin Falu to become the first Henry Luce Visiting Fellow at Columbia University. Chou also made plans for the visits to China of the American Brass Quintet and professor of fashion design Theresa Reilly and for the conference on arts education co-sponsored by the Center and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. His meetings with the Dramatists Association led to an invitation to Arthur Miller to direct the first Chinese production of “Death of a Salesman” in Beijing this spring.

A concert by the Central Philharmonic Orchestra under American guest conductor David Gilbert featured Chou’s own 1954 work And the Fallen Petals. On that occasion, Chou met several talented young composers, including Tan Dun, whose Fantasy Symphony he brought back to the United States for performance in Aspen and in Honolulu, with Chen Xieyang conducting. To the Musicians Association Chou presented tapes of Chen’s December 1981 concert of Chinese music at Manhattan’s Symphony Space. These recordings of Chen’s American debut performance were broadcast in China following Chou’s visit.

In Shanghai, Chou continued to explore Center projects with officials and artists, including He Luding, chairman of the Shanghai branch of CFLAC and director of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; Huang Yijun, conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra; and Tan Shuzhen, deputy director of the  Shanghai Conservatory. As in Beijing, a major topic of discussion was the development of specific proposals to address China’s needs in arts education. In both cities, music students were eager to learn about music education in the United States and to inquire into the possibility of furthering their musical training in America.

The Chinese also raised a number of issues for discussion: for example, the Musicians Association and CFLAC expressed interest in having the Center act as agent for their publications in the United States. Chinese officials and artists were interested in Chou’s observations of artistic activity in Taiwan, and asked him to give lectures on the subject. 

The first fruits of Chou’s six-week trip are already documented in this newsletter, and a dozen or more major projects that were barely conceived ideas a year ago are currently underway.

Changing of the Guard

The year 1982 brought the Center three new staff members. In January, Miles Kessler was hired as administrative associate, a new position created in response to the Center’s expanded operations. In addition to overseeing the budget and financial planning, Miles works with the Center’s Development Committee on fundraising efforts. Miles is no stranger to the arts or operations with international scope. A fine arts graduate of Cornell, he earned a master’s degree in oriental art history at the University of Denver and taught art history at the University of Colorado before joining the American Embassy staff in Bamako, Mali, as budget and fiscal officer.

In May, administrative assistant Jocelyn Charles left the U.S.-China Arts Exchange to join the staff of the U.S.-China Industrial Exchange, where she now works to promote trade and commercial relations between the two countries. Her successor, Susan Sternglass, is a 1982 graduate of Cornell with a back ground in Chinese studies and graphic design.

With Michelle Vosper’s departure in July for married life in Hong Kong, May Wu became the Center’s new program coordinator. Born in China and educated in the United States and in France, May holds a bachelor’s degree in publication from Simmons College and a diploma in international relations from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. Since coming to New York in 1973, she has done further graduate work in political science at Columbia while working as a research assistant at the Council on Foreign Relations and as assistant director of studies at the Lehrman Institute. Prior to joining the Center, May served for a year as editorial director of Eurasia Press, where she supervised the publication of The China Guidebook, 1982-83 and the English-language edition of The Yearbook of China’s Economy, 1981. In addition to her current position, she remains editorial consultant to the Lehrman Institute for a four-volume English language edition of Jacques Rueff’s writings on economic policy and monetary theory.

Chou Elected to American Academy

Last spring, Center director Chou Wen-chung was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The 250 members of the Institute are native or naturalized American citizens “qualified by notable achievements in art, music, and literature.”

In proposing Chou for membership, the nominators noted that he is “a master of Chinese and Western musical expression. His compositions subtly blend elements from the two traditions within the context of contemporary musical practices.”

Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the noted German critic H.H. Stuckenschmidt once called Chou “a musical calligrapher, whose pen imitates the subtlest efforts of the painter. . . .”

Chou joins four members of the Center’s Advisory Council who have also been so honored. They are composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, playwright Arthur Miller, architect I. M. Pei, and art historian Meyer Schapiro.

Variation on a Theme

In May 1982, Michelle Vosper, the Center’s first program coordinator, announced her engagement to Leslie Lo, then a doctoral candidate at Teachers College of Columbia University and translator of a new English edition of Chinese play wright Cao Yu’s Peking Man. The joyful news was hailed by Michelle’s colleagues as “a variation on the theme of U.S.-China cultural exchange.”

Michelle Vosper and Leslie Lo bid farewell to guests at reception given by the Center
Michelle Vosper and Leslie Lo bid farewell to guests at reception given by the Center

Michelle, who had worked at the Center since its inception, first met her future husband during Cao Yu’s 1980 visit to New York. At that time, Leslie’s work on the play and his talents as a calligrapher brought him to the attention of the Center’s program coordinator. Subsequently, Michelle and Leslie collaborated on several Center programs, and the working relationship blossomed into a special kind of partnership.

Upon receiving his doctorate last spring, Leslie accepted a teaching position at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. After their wedding in July, Michelle and Leslie packed their bags for Hong Kong and a second, Chinese-style ceremony.

Michelle continues her association with the Center as a program consultant. Last October she served as co- leader of the American Arts Educators Delegation that the Center and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund sent to China at the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Culture. Leslie is working on final revisions of Peking Man and anticipates publication by Columbia University Press next spring.

Purpose and Organization

The Center for United States-China Arts Exchange is a not-for-profit national organization that promotes and facilitates exchanges of specialists and materials in the literary, performing, and visual arts between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Its primary objective is to stimulate public interest in the arts of both countries and to encourage collaboration among artists and arts educators on projects of mutual longterm benefit.

Established on October 1, 1978 with support grants from the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and a research grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Center receives contributions of office space and general support from Columbia University. The Center is not a funding organization; it relies on contributions of money, materials, and services from foundations, corporations, and individuals to carry out its programs.

A Board of Managers and an Advisory Council, both created in spring 1981, oversee the Center’s programs and policies. A Development Committee, currently comprising two members of the Board of Managers and six members of the Advisory Council, advises and assists the Center in fundraising.

Board of Managers

  • Michael I. Sovern, Honorary Chairman
  • Robert F Goldberger
  • Schuyler G. Chapin*
  • Chou Wen-chung*

Advisory Council

  • A. Doak Barnett
  • Leonard Bernstein
  • John Bresnan*
  • John Chancellor
  • William A. Delano*
  • Milos Forman
  • Porter McKeever*
  • Arthur Miller
  • Waldemar A. Nielsen*
  • Robert B. Oxnam
  • I. M. Pei
  • Russell A. Phillips, Jr.*
  • Arthur H. Rosen
  • Norman Ross*
  • Henry P. Sailer
  • Meyer Schapiro
  • Walter Scheuer
  • Martin E. Segal
  • Isaac Stern
  • Audrey Topping
  • Herman Wouk
  • Yang Chen-ning
  • *Member, Development Committee

Officers and Staff

  • Chou Wen-chung, Director
  • May Wu, Program Coordinator
  • Miles B. Kessler, Administrative Associate
  • Susan E. Sternglass, Administrative Assistant
  • Project Interns: Mary Pat Coll, Linda Daines, Kenneth Hao, Honor Phillips, Kerry Prichett, Patricia Rooney, Martin Vinik.
  • Project Assistants: Wendy Abraham and Marianne Woo
  • Student Assistants: David Keung and Wai Ng


The Center is grateful to the following organizations and individuals for general support and program grants received during the past year:

  • Asian Cultural Council
  • Atlantic Richfield Foundation
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation
  • The Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation
  • The Henry Luce Foundation
  • Mr. and Mrs. George D. O’Neill
  • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • The Starr Foundation
  • Mrs. Robert S. Tangeman
  • The United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, China Program


The Center expresses its appreciation to the following organizations and their personnel for contributing to the success of Center programs in 1982:

  • American Museum of Natural History
  • American Music Center
  • American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
  • Antaeus/Ecco Press
  • Arbor House Publishing Company
  • Art Students League
  • Asian Cinevision
  • Aspen Music Festival
  • Asian Composers League
  • Aulos, Inc.
  • Bargemusic, Inc.
  • Basic Books, Inc.
  • Belwin Mills Publishing Corporation
  • Berkshire Music Festival
  • Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
  • Boston Museum of Fine Arts
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Boston University
  • Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • Carnegie Hall Corporation
  • Carpenter Center for Visual Arts
  • Leo Castelli Gallery
  • Chamber Music America, Inc.
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • China Institute in America
  • China International Travel Service
  • Chinese American Arts Council
  • Chinese Culture Foundation
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Cityarts Workshop
  • Civic Orchestra of Chicago
  • Civil Aviation Administration of China
  • College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati
  • Columbia University Press
  • Composers Recordings, Inc.
  • Composers String Quartet
  • Charles Cowles Gallery
  • Tom Crown Mute Company
  • Cultural Center of the Philippines
  • Terry Dintenfass, Inc.
  • East-West Center
  • Eastman School of Music
  • Edgar Snow Memorial Fund
  • European American Music Distributors
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.
  • Carl Fischer, Inc.
  • Fogg Museum
  • Galaxy Music Corporation
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Harvard University
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Honolulu Symphony Orchestra
  • Houston Ballet
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Institute of Contemporary Art
  • International Music Company
  • Jacques Francais Rare Violins, Inc.
  • Japan Airlines
  • John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Juilliard School of Music
  • Juilliard String Quartet
  • Charles F. Kettering Foundation
  • Robert King Music Sales, Inc.
  • G. Leblanc Corporation
  • Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Los Angeles Council for International Visitors
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
  • Macmillan Publishing Company
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • Mannes College of Music
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • National Committee for U.S.–China Relations
  • New England Conservatory of Music
  • New Museum
  • New York Drawing Association
  • New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Nikolais/Louis Foundation of Dance
  • Northeastern University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oxford University Press
  • Theodore Presser Company
  • Princeton Art Museum
  • Public Art Fund, Inc.
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Salchow’s Bow Shop
  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • San Francisco Opera Association
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
  • G. Schirmer, Inc.
  • School of Visual Arts
  • Shubert Organization
  • State University of New York, Purchase
  • Steinway & Sons
  • Stradivarius Studios
  • J. P. Tarcher, Inc.
  • University of Missouri, Kansas City
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • University of Southern California
  • University of the Philippines
  • U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association
  • Vincent Bach International
  • Vintage Travel, Inc.
  • WBAI-F M
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts
  • Yale-China Association
  • Yale University


The Center extends its thanks to the following individuals for their special assistance during 1982:

Charles Abbott, Herbert Barrett, Yi-an Chang, Chang Chi-jen, Chen Lanku, Joan Lebold Cohen, Julia and Godwin Chu, Mark Churchill, Dorothy DeLay, Maria Fang, Trudy Golden, Donald Johanos, Barbara Stewart Johnson, Han Kuo-huang, Barbara Kane, Douglas P. Murray, Loretta Pan, Seiji Ozawa, Alwin Nikolais, Henry P. Sailer, Gunther Schuller, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Henry Shek, Marylou Speaker, Barbara Tan, Meng-kong Tham, James Theobald, Ken and Mimi Tung, Tze-koong Wang, and Charles Wu.

Editor: Meg Lavigne

  • The Center for US-China Arts Exchange
  • Columbia University 

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