Chinese Opera: Songs for the Ancestors

July 21 and 22, 2001     Two performances at 2:00 and 4:00 each day.
Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive at 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. Metro Station: Smithsonian (Mall exit)

Photo Gallery of the Performance 

Ms.Liang Guyin of the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe performed two classic scenes from the Chinese Kunqu repertoire. In "An Invocation" (Jae Moo) from Curing the Pain of Jealousy, a young woman performs honorific rituals at the grave of a woman she admired. In "Paint the Portrait" (Meio Zong) from Songs of the Lute, a woman creates an image of her deceased in-laws before a visit to her husband's family. Mr. Chen Tao performed two flute solos and led the Kunqu musical ensemble featuring percussionist Wang Zhensheng, who has toured with Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun.

Introduction by Michael Wilpers (Freer Gallery of Art)

Lecture by Nora Yeh (Library of Congress)
"An Invocation" (Jae Moo) with Liang Guyin
Interlude -- Flute Performance by Chen Tao
"Painting the Portrait" (Meio Zong) with Liang Guyin

This program was jointly presented by the Freer Gallery of Art and the Wintergreen Kunqu Society and was made possible in part with funds from the Bank of America. Special thanks to the Han Sheng Chinese Opera Institute for providing assistance.

  Musical Ensemble

Drum and Clappers: Wang Zhensheng

Kunqu Flute:

Chen Tao
Small Gong: Paul Yao

  Production Staff

Producer: Tong-Ching Chang
Dresser and Makeup: Lin Ping
Libretto Translation  Tak Kin Chu

  Meet the Artists

Liang Guyin  is one of the premiere performers in Chinese classical heater. A winner of the prestigious Plum Blossom Award, Ms. Guyin specializes in young woman's roles. Ms. Liang is a member of Shanghai Kunqu Troupe.


Chen Tao is the founder and director of the Melody of Dragon, the artistic director and conductor of the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York. He is not only a specialist on the flute, xiao and xun, but he is also a virtuoso performer on other wind instruments such as the bawu, koudi, chiba and other folk wind instruments.  In 1989 he entered the National Folk Instrument competition and won first place.  On several occasions he represented various groups of Chinese musicians, including the Chinese Buddhist Musicians Ensemble, and visited the US, Germany, Italy, France, England, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.  During a trip to England he collaborated with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and The Orchestra National de Lyon on the performances that won high praise. His playing can be heard on several soundtracks of Hollywood movies including Seven Years in Tibet, Corrupter (with the New York Philharmonic) and on the PBS documentary Under the Red Flag. In the US, The New York Times called him a "poet in music" and his playing "a miracle of the oriental flute." While on tour in Germany the maestro Herbert von Karajan praises him as an artist who "performed with his soul."

Before coming to the US, Chen Tao was an Associate Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, a member of the Chinese Musicians Association and a member of the Chinese Folk Wind and String Instrument Association.  Chen Tao graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in 1986, from the Folk Music Department.  His performing style combines the refined elegance of the southern school and the robust liveliness of the northern school.  The sound of his flute is full, round, and rich, and is marked by a unique timbre that can truly be described ad enchanting.

Chen Tao is also an acclaimed pioneer performer in the world of new music.  He has also performed and recorded modern compositions by such well known composers as Zhou Long , Chen Yi, Tan Dun,  Joan La Barbara, Carter Burwell, Bun-Ching Lam and Qu Xiao-song. The Central People's Broadcasting Station, the Beijing People's Broadcasting Station, and Radio Shanghai have all arranged special programs to introduce his art.  In addition, cable stations in both New Jersey and New York (channel 31) have run programs devoted to Chen Tao and his craft.  Outside of performing, Chen Tao has also authored several professional articles on folk music.  His music for flute "Leaves on Fall River", "Bawu Music" and "Phoenix Tail Bamboo beneath the Moon" and many others have been recorded on CD.  He has been invited by Beijing University, Qinghua University, Fudan University, Columbia University, Syracuse University, Colgate University, College of Charleston, Peabody Conservatory of Music, Rutgers University, Yale University and New Jersey Performing Arts Center to lecture and perform.  In February 1996, invited by Taiwan's National Music Ensemble in Taipei, Chen Tao held a concerto performance in the National Hall of Music and delivered a lecture on flute music, both of which garnered tremendous critical acclaim. 

Since coming to the US in 1993, Chen Tao has been invited to perform and lecture throughout the country.  His first solo concert in the New York area was successfully held in December 1993.  He has performed at the Lincoln Center at the invitation of the Manhattan School of Music's Chamber Orchestra--The Music Consort, and China Institute in America invited him to perform and lecture on the Chinese flute during their spring 1995 season.  The New York City based World Journal and Tsingtao Daily have called him "the king of the flute" and a "master of the art of the flute."