When Mei Han, visiting assistant professor of Asian music and culture, began instructing the Chinese Music Ensemble a year ago, most of the students were unfamiliar with Eastern instruments and the accompanying musical notation. A year of playing gave the group maturity and experience, as well as eight new members of the ensemble who rapidly learned the skills required to perform.
The Chinese Music Ensemble played its second concert at Kenyon in December and was met with an almost capacity crowd in Brandi Music Hall.
Directed by Han and Randy Raine-Reusch, visiting instructor of music, the 2014 ensemble consisted of fifteen students playing a variety of instruments indigenous to the Eastern music culture.
Han herself is a virtuoso on the guzheng or Chinese zither, having toured China as a concert soloist at nineteen and internationally soon after. She came to Kenyon in 2013, and founded the Chinese Music Ensemble shortly thereafter. Han provides many of the hard-to-acquire instruments used by the ensemble, such as the sheng, a set of bamboo pipes and ancestor to the harmonica; the yangqin, a hammer dulcimer originating in Persia; and the pipa or Chinese lute.
"The members have worked very hard to learn new instruments, notation and a new way of listening all in a few short months,” Han said. “The result was a longer and more varied program than we had previously, with a wealth of new musical treasures."