The Voices of Parkside members are busily perfecting their Mandarin as they prepare to sing “The Moon Represents My Heart” — one of the best-known Chinese pop songs — for concerts on Friday and Saturday, May 24-25.
They will perform alongside a choir from Jianghan University in Wuhan, China. The Friday performance will be held at 7 p.m. in Bedford Concert Hall at UW-Parkside, 900 Wood Road, Somers. The Saturday performance will be held at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave., Racine. There is no admission fee at either venue.
Both choirs will get the opportunity to experience each other’s music and culture in a unique collaboration UW-Parkside has titled, “Two Worlds, One Art.” The Jianghan University singers will be in Wisconsin May 20-27; the UW-Parkside group will be in China June 9-19.
Professor Zhi Yong Chen will bring his choir of 22 students to spend a week at UW-Parkside with James Kinchen and the Voices of Parkside. While preparing to perform two concerts with Voices, the visiting group will get a chance to explore the Midwest.
For the Friday concert, some selections will be performed with both choirs together, and some will be performed separately. They will reprise their concert at the Saturday concert.
The repertoire has been in preparation for well over a year. Kinchen traveled to and taught at Jianghan University in June of 2018. There, he worked with theirs choirs on a selection of western songs for them to sing in Wisconsin. Those pieces include “Alleleuia” by Randall Thompson, “A Boy and a Girl” by Eric Whitacre, “Kyrie” by Mozart, “Joshua” arranged by Moses Hogan and “The Awakening” by Joseph Martin.
After the May concerts in Wisconsin, the Voices of Parkside, along with Kinchen and George Wang from the Institute of China Studies, and UW-Parkside jazz professor Russ Johnson, will travel to China and spend one week at Jianghang University, where they will have a chance to visit the city of Wuhan and perform two concerts.
The partnership between Parkside and Jianghan University was forged back in the fall of 2017 when the Music Department welcomed Professor Lilly Zhang for six months as a visiting scholar. Zhang researched American music pedagogies, sang in the Master Singers choir and performed a concert for a packed house. Kinchen traveled to China the following summer to cement the exchange. This collaboration has been made possible by the careful facilitation of Wang.