MUSCATINE, Iowa—In an annual tradition five years in the making, Muscatine will welcome the Chinese New Year with performances from some of China’s most celebrated performers. An outstanding opportunity for residents to experience Chinese culture firsthand, the Little Ants Kunqu Opera Art Troupe, Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, and Zhejian Shaouju Opera will perform in Muscatine Jan. 30 in the Muscatine High School auditorium at 7:00 p.m.
In 2015, the Muscatine China Initiative Committee first approached the Chinese Consulate in Chicago about bringing performers to Muscatine. They welcomed the idea and have, with the help of Chinese Arts and Entertainment Group, have helped Muscatine put on a Chinese New Year celebration each year.
This year’s performance will regale audiences with many different types of Chinese theatre. The Shanghai Chinese Orchestra will begin the night’s entertainment by playing their “New Oriental Music Scene” which includes pieces of traditional Chinese music along with more modern works with both Chinese and international influences.
Following an intermission, the Little Ants Kunqu Opera Art Troupe will perform “Cloud Hand,” a brief opera. Composed of 11 elementary school age students, this group will preview some of China’s up and coming talent.
To close out the night, the Zhejian Shaouju Opera will perform a variety of scenes demonstrating their signature style of music as well as their acrobatic prowess. Done in elaborate costumes and makeup, this performance will surely hold viewers spellbound.
Along with their free evening performance, artists from each organization will spend time on Jan. 31 meeting members of the community and visiting area schools. Some performers will go Muscatine High School to put on a special show for students enrolled in fine arts classes. Others will hold an open house at the Sino US Friendship Center from 1:00-3:00 pm where anyone may come out and meet them and enjoy some short performances too. Though the Muscatine China Initiative Committee has not finalized details, they also hope to have the Little Ants Kunqu Opera Art Troupe visit Muscatine’s elementary schools, allowing students to interact with international visitors their own age.
Dan Stein, a member of the Muscatine China Initiative Committee, shared that he hopes residents will attend the event and enjoy it as much as they have previous visits: “It’s pretty neat. Most people enjoy music and art, and having a concert of this caliber is unique,” he said.
Stein also values the experience of getting to introduce the Chinese performers to life in a smaller American City. The three troupes that will visit Muscatine will also perform in several larger cities around the country, including Chicago and Washington D.C., but few of the performers have ever visited a small town. Through tours of the city and home stays, the trip allows this group of Chinese citizens to see a real slice of ordinary life while sharing their culture with area residents. If you would like to see for your self the rewards of building international friendships, Stein encourages you to contact Janet Clark at [email protected] to volunteer of serve as a host family.