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Guest violinist brings exposure to international music

Ellis Mosier

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Lawrence University Chamber Orchestra invited guest musician Jing Wang to perform with them. The orchestra performed a beautiful and moving rendition of Beethoven’s well-known Fifth Symphony, as well as an original piece by Joseph Koykkar. Both pieces were presented with beautiful dynamics that held the audience captivated until the final resolutions.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a traditional orchestral piece, presented a wonderful but powerful contrast to Koykarr’s contemporary “Cosmic Code: Suite for Chamber Orchestra.” The incredible execution of each piece was no surprise due to the fact that most audience members were well aware of the immense talent of Lawrence musicians. What seemed to intrigue the audience most was the instrument played by Jing Wang: the erhu.
The erhu is a Chinese violin-like instrument which dates back to the 12th century. The instrument produces a thin, nasally sound similar to that of a violin by moving a bow horizontally between its two strings. The name “erhu” is thought to come from the Chinese word for “two,” “er,” because of its two strings. Jing Wang performed “Rhapsody No. 1 for Erhu and Orchestra” with such grace and talent that it was often easy to forget that the instrument she used to produce such sounds was composed simply of two silk strings and a hollow wooden chamber. Even with such a simplistic shape, the instrument was able to reach a large range of notes, almost three octaves. It’s a testament to both Jing Wang’s obvious talent and to the clich****accent e**** idiom that it is indeed “a gift to be simple.”
Lawrence University has offered several opportunities throughout the year for students to experience international music. Such attention to diversity gives students wonderful exposure to cultures outside our own without having to travel. When asked about her thoughts on the idea of allowing students to experience foreign culture through music, one student commented, “I think it’s a great thing. A lot of people probably would never in their lives hear something like [the erhu] unless it’s brought right to them, and this is an awesome way of doing that.” While the concert itself was an excellent experience, even more powerful was the worldliness gained by audience members by simply experiencing the music of Jing Wang’s erhu.