By Hayat Norimine
Northwest Asian Weekly
Nearly 10 years ago, University of Washington Wind Ensemble Conductor Tim Salzman helped a student finance his education. That small act, years later, eventually led to a partnership with the China Conservatory.
“When he went back to China, he sort of made it his mission to pay me back,” Salzman said.
The international student, a flute performance major, managed to complete his degree at the UW and later went on to become a professor at the China Conservatory of Music.
Now, the UW Wind Ensemble has a partnership with the prestigious conservatory. The group flew to Beijing during their spring break, partly funded by the China Conservatory, for the performance of a lifetime.
“It’s just an incredible honor to be asked to do this,” Salzman said at the preview concert held on March 12.
The 60 members of the UW Wind Ensemble arrived in Beijing last Saturday, March 23 and played their first concert at Renmin University on Monday, March 25. They then played at the China Conservatory on Wednesday, March 27, and followed up with another performance at Tsinghua University. Their tour will be completed with a sold-out concert in Tiananmen Square on Sunday, March 31 at the National Center for the Performing Arts for a crowd of 1,700.
It was a great opportunity, Salzman said, for the Wind Ensemble to be performing in an area of the world where wind bands have great success. He said there are presently 600 wind bands in the Beijing area, and calls this tour “good timing,” considering the current Chinese music culture.
This isn’t the UW Wind Ensemble’s first time performing for an international audience. In 2004, the group traveled to Japan and completed a nine-day tour of the Kansai region. Because it was a success, they returned again in 2007 and 2010 for more extensive tours.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the relationship between the United States and China is crucial for global development.
In its Task Force Report on U.S.-China relations, the council states, “No relationship will be as important to the 21st century as the one between the United States, the world’s great power, and China, the world’s rising power. … At the same time, there are some Americans who believe that China’s strategic interests are incompatible with those of the United States.”
While the countries are often described to have distrust between each other, China Conservatory President Zhao Talimu, who was present at the preview concert, said music is a tool that can help mediate when groups have differences. Both Salzman and Talimu saw a great benefit to the partnership between the University of Washington and the China Conservatory.
“Music is something unique,” Talimu said. “It can act as a bridge between cultures. It cannot be replaced by something else.”
At the preview concert, Salzman said the Wind Ensemble is “looking forward to making great music and … totally embracing the Chinese culture while we’re there.”
Salzman dedicated the preview concert to members of the China Conservatory. Sixteen members attended the concert. The last piece before the intermission — “Ode to the Motherland,” a Chinese patriotic song — received a standing ovation.
“Every country has its own unique culture, national interests are different,” Talimu said. “Music not only is beneficial for human beings, but it also promotes peace between nations. It is not possible to eliminate conflicts between nations, but with music, we can stimulate peace. This is something we ought to do.” (end)
Hayat Norimine can be contacted at email@example.com.