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Jazz Ensemble Travels to China in Musical Exchange

By Mason Spirit contributor on February 1, 2012

Cover photo: Jim Carroll, director of Mason’s Jazz Studies, works with Xiaolu Zhang, a jazz professor at Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Photo courtesy of Anqi Xue.

There’s an old saying that “music will take you places.” For the School of Music, that proverb became a reality this past fall semester with its first ever Jazz-to-China trip.

Director of Jazz Studies Jim Carroll at center, with members of the Mason Jazz Ensemble in China. Photo courtesy of Anqi Xue.

According to the trip organizer Anqi Xue, MA Arts Management ’11, members of the Mason Jazz Ensemble traveled to Shanghai in late September for a weeklong visit to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, one of the most respected conservatories in Asia, as a part of a series of musical exchanges and collaborations.

The exchange included seminars, workshops between musicians from Mason and the conservatory, and master classes on conducting, orchestra performance, and jazz improvisation taught by Mason’s Director of Jazz Studies James Carroll, Athletic Bands Director Michael (Doc Nix) Nickens, and Heritage Chair in Music Dennis Layendecker.

The ensemble also performed several times. Their first performance was at the Shanghai Concert Hall, which is considered the Carnegie Hall of Shanghai, and broadcast live by Shanghai Weekly Concert Radio. The 1,200-seat venue was sold out for the Mason group’s performance.

Michael Nickens and Jim Carroll of Mason pose with Xiaolu Zhang of the Shanghai Conservatory. Photo courtesy of Anqi Xue.

The group also collaborated and performed with members of the Shanghai Conservatory. The ensemble was hosted by Wang Yong, the conservatory’s associate director of arts management and the host of the Weekly Concert Series.

Other performances took place at the Beijing Language and Cultural Institute and the Beijing Conservatory.

“The purpose of this trip was to create a platform for young musicians from both countries—U.S. and China,” says Xue. “It is a chance to exchange their music talents and promote better cultural understanding for generations to come.”

Xue and Carroll expressed their thanks to College of Visual and Performing Arts dean Bill Reeder, and Edward Weiner, senior partner of the Fairfax law firm Weiner & Spivey PLC, for sponsoring the trip.

According to Carroll, the Mason Jazz Ensemble has been keeping busy since its return from China. They performed at the annual Jazz 4 Justice to raise money for the Fairfax Law Foundation’s pro bono work, and performed for the International Conference of Fine Arts Deans; Madame Junqi Yan, vice chair of the National People’s Congress of China, in the Center for the Arts; and at the Virginia Music Educators Association in Norfolk.

–Erin Cushing

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