What an INCREDIBLE visit we had from Ling Ke, rising opera star, and members of his ensemble, the Tianjin Peking Opera! I called Bill Logan at UIC to invite the performers to do an informance for us since we could not attend their weekend show, part of the “Envisioning China” exhibition. I also sent them photos of the students’ masks and their lyrics and asked if the artists could possibly teach our students elements of Peking Opera style in preparation for performing their original songs. Despite being in Chicago only for the weekend, the artists agreed to come and what an experience we had with them. Two translators facilitated the class.
Ling Ke, above, was a phenomenal teacher and spent so much time teaching this student how to create a horse onstage. A martial artist/make up artist made up one of our students as The Monkey King (and the kids understood the color symbolism) and performed a breathtaking martial arts sequence for us. Their costumer showed the students what the lines in a mask mean while the other students were getting their make up lesson. To complete our experience, Ling Ke sang our students’ original lyrics about the Chinese New Year in Peking Opera style. The students were absolutely rapt with attention.
Here, Ling Ke sings these lyrics from the children’s original song, “Chinese New Year in the House of Wong”:
Our Chinese New Year’s Party is amazing, exciting,
Exotic, ecstatic, fantastic, outstanding!
Mom’s smiling, Grandpa’s angry, Cousin’s confused, and Grandma’s crying:
Where are we going? Why are we leaving?
I love the kites flying high in the sky, People lighting lanterns way up high
I love the smells of traditional food, It puts me in a good mood!
In this video, watch as Ling Ke works with a student who was made up by a martial/make- up artist to be the Monkey King!
Aurora Carranza Ramos here works with the children to identify and choose rhythmic patterns for their song lyrics, which loosely emulate those we hear in Chinese music for the opera. She spoke through their lyrics with them keeping a steady beat and noted their rhythmic choices. We then worked with them to assign degrees of the pentatonic scale to each word or syllable. Lastly, we will add xylophones and other instruments to the final performance, as well as some ideas we learned from Ling Ke regarding physical gesture.
Student #1The students interviewed Mr. Z, shown here, about his experiences as an immigrant from Kuwait. Their song "Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover" is directly inspired by his comments. Here, a few students read him the lyrics for the first time after the interview.
Student #2Here, Ms. Ramos works with the students to create appropriate rhythms for their lyrics. Numbers on the board indicate scale degrees in the pentatonic scale. Miss Lisa, TA, created lyrics for two songs in classroom "push-ins" with the students based on their book and on their interview with Mr. Z, gym teacher at Talcott.
Student #3Jona improvises on a "pentatonic" xylophone as the class practices their song