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February 26, 2009

Famed kunqu actress to give presentation in Ann Arbor Public Library

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room

Zhang Xunpeng

Kunqu (pronounced kwin chu) is one of the oldest and most refined styles of traditional Chinese theatre performed today. It is a synthesis of drama, opera, ballet, poetry recital, and musical recital, which also draws on earlier forms of Chinese theatrical performances such as mime, farce, acrobatics, ballad recital, and medley, some of which go back to the third century B.C. or even earlier.

On Saturday, March 14, acclaimed Chinese Actress Zhang Xunpeng will make a special appearance in the Downtown Library Multipurpose Room from 2:00 to 3:30 pm to discuss and demonstrate this ancient theatrical performance art. The event was organized with the help of the University of Michigan Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments.

In a Kunqu performance, recitative is interspersed with arias sung to traditional melodies. Each word or phrase is also expressed by a stylized movement or gesture that is essentially part of a dance, with strict rules of style and execution much like classical ballet.

Even casual gestures must be precisely executed and timed to coordinate with the music and percussion. The refinement of the movement is further enhanced with stylized costumes that also serve as simple props.

Zhang Xunpeng is currently the Professor in Charge of Training the Fifth Generation of Kunqu Performers, at the Shanghai Theater and Drama College, Division of Theater and is also Senior Actress of the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe.

Her many honors include:
• National and Representative Successor and Educator of Kunqu, an Intangible Heritage of Chinese Art, appointed in 2008 by the Ministry of Culture (Wenhuabu) of the People’s Republic of China.
• National First Class Actress, appointed in 2001 by the Ministry of Culture (Wenhuabu) of the People’s Republic of China.
• Life Time Achievement Award for the Excellent Contribution to the Kunqu, granted in 2000 by the Ministry of Culture (Wenhuabu) of the People’s Republic of China.

She was also awarded a Golden Eagle Award for the Television Drama Peony Pavilion, in which she played the leading female role.

This is an excellent opportunity to meet one of the great theatrical artists of China, in addition to learning more about this ancient performance art.

Holding over 2500 pieces of historical and contemporary musical instruments from all over the world, the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments (the co-sponsor of this event) is one of the largest accumulations of such artifacts housed in a North American university.

Known internationally as a unique collection, it is not only a precious heritage from the past, but also a rich resource for musical, educational, and cultural needs of the present and future.

The collection features permanent and occasional displays in the Vesta Mills Gallery and in various exhibition areas throughout the Earl V. Moore Building of the School of Music of the University of Michigan.

For more information on this event, call the Ann Arbor District Library at 327-4555. The Downtown Library is located at 343 S. Fifth Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Posted by zzhu at February 26, 2009 08:57 AM