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Music a language that all can understand

KENT — The Nanyang Model School symphony orchestra from Shanghai, China, performed a concert in St. Michael’s Chapel at the South Kent School on Monday, Dec. 12. (See photos on Page A1.)Head of School Andrew Vadnais welcomed the student musicians, saying it was an honor to have them perform on the campus. Prior to the start of the concert, he had exchanged gifts with Vice Principal Xiao Pu Li and the orchestra’s conductor.The Nanyang Model School was founded more than a century ago; the school’s symphony orchestra was created in 1992. It has become one of the most active and competitive student orchestras in the world. Among other awards, they won gold prizes at the 15th National Youth Culture and Arts Exchange in 2004 and the 35th Australian International Music Festival this year.There are more than 120 students in the orchestra program, which is under the leadership of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Cao Peng. For this current U.S. tour, 58 students between the ages of 12 and 18 performed, with direction by Maestro Wang Yong Ji. According to the concert’s program, Wang is one of the most famous conductors in China.The performance Monday gave a hint as to why the school and its conductor have had such success. The school’s chapel was not quite large enough for all the student musicians to spread out in a normal symphony-style arrangement. Instead, a rather cramped seating plan was used, with half the orchestra sitting at a right angle to those in back.Nevertheless, the acoustics were excellent, perhaps enhanced by the chapel’s wood ceiling.The program included a European piece plus several Chinese symphonic pieces. Two Chinese instruments were featured: a two-stringed instrument played with a bow, and a small horn. The orchestra’s next stop on their U.S. tour is the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., followed by appearances in Buffalo and Chicago.

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