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April 14, 2017

UMS in the Classroom: China NCPA Orchestra


China NCPA Orch 1

Interested in using a UMS performance in your university classroom? For each performance on the season, we provide suggested curricular connections, links to contextual material online, citations for scholarly material, and prompts for classroom discussion. For additional resources and individualized curricular support, please contact Shannon Fitzsimons Moen, UMS Campus Engagement Specialist, at or (734) 764-3903.

UMS is also committed to making our performances an affordable part of the academic experience. Our Classroom Ticket Program provides $15 tickets to students and faculty for performances that are a course requirement. Please email to set up a group order.


This performance may connect meaningfully with courses in the following schools and disciplines:

  • Communication Studies
  • Comparative Literature
  • Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Music Education
  • Music Theory
  • Musicology
  • Piano
  • Strings
  • Voice
  • Winds & Percussion
  • Education
  • Public Policy


  • Learn about the Chinese pipa, a pear-shaped stringed instrument, on pipa virtuoso Wu Man’s official website.
  • Learn about the construction, history, and sound of the pipa in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Volume 7: East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea.(Routledge, 2001).
  • This scene from the documentary Broken Silence presents Qu Xiao Song, the celebrated Chinese composer of contemporary classical music, whose new composition will be featured on this concert.
  • Scholar Mina Yang examines the complex roles that people of Asian descent have played in classical music in the 20th century in her article “East Meets West in the Concert Hall: Asians and Classical Music in the Century of Imperialism, Post-Colonialism, and Multiculturalism” (Asian Music, Winter-Spring 2007).


  • Consider the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western cultures in Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra. How does the composer incorporate elements of traditional Chinese music into the Western European context of a string orchestra? What characteristics of Chinese pipa playing are reflected in the orchestral accompaniment?
  • Many people define music as a “universal language” that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. Compare the musical language in the contemporary Chinese-influenced works on the first half of the program with that of the Brahms Symphony No. 4. Did Qigang Chen and Brahms express musical ideas in the same or different ways? Consider again the concept of music as a universal language. Is this a valid statement, or is more complicated? Why?