Friendship leads classical guitar professor to make eighth musical appearance in Taiwan

Topic: College of Fine Arts

October 18, 2007

Paul Reilly
Paul Reilly
More than two decades ago, Ball State professor Paul Reilly and graduate student Ming-Jian Fang first met while Fang was pursuing his doctoral degree.

But over the course of 27 years, the two eventually developed a friendship, and that familiarity has led Reilly to Taiwan seven times to conduct guitar classes and to perform concerts. Now, he's preparing for his eighth trip.

Reilly, a professor of music performance with a specialty in classical guitar, will perform his tour in mid-December. He will also teach at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei City, where Fang is now a music professor who has been recording CDs, including one that won a Gold Melody Award in Taiwan.

According to Reilly, Fang came to Ball State to complete his doctorate after attending Southern Illinois University.

Fang returned to Taiwan after he graduated and eventually became the dean of the College of Fine Arts at Fu Jen Catholic University, Reilly said.

In 1988, Fang invited Reilly to perform in a concert series in Taiwan sponsored by the Yamaha Corp. According to Reilly, his friendship with Fang developed after his first tour.

"If Fang had not invited me the first time, I would be touring somewhere else, but I wouldn't be having so much fun. Taiwan is a beautiful place with great food and wonderful people, and each trip there brings me another great memory of my associations with the people of Taiwan," Reilly said.

Fang regularly invites Reilly back, and all tour arrangements are made by Asia Music Arts (AMA).

AMA is located in Taipei City and specializes in promoting classical and jazz musicians and groups. Its marketing channels include colleges, schools, music and art studios and various cultural centers.

Fang has been a great help when touring in Taiwan, Reilly said. He especially helps Reilly with the language.

"If Fang did not invite me, I doubt that I would go," Reilly said. "However, all of my concerts sell well and AMA would probably still do my tours, but I really need Fang over there to help with the travel and language."

Fang, a recipient of the School of Music Alumni Award, is returning to Ball State in April for a concert as part of the 20th anniversary of the Classical Guitar Festival.

Reilly began playing overseas in 1973, when he studied at the International Summer Music Academy in Spain for two summers.

He takes his cultural experiences and shares them with his students. For example, one of the biggest adaptations is the weather overseas, Reilly noted, citing how he had to adjust to the high humidity in Taiwan.

When playing in outdoors, the guitar goes out of tune because of humidity, but when playing inside, the loud air-conditioning units drown out the music, Reilly said.

"It's these kinds of issues that I relay to my students," Reilly said. "But for the most part, I tell them about the experience of playing in a different place."

In 1969, Reilly received his bachelor's degree in music composition from DePaul University in Chicago. There, he privately studied with Richard Pick, a noted American classical guitarist. He performed regularly for the Chicago Guitar Society and appeared several times on WTTW, Chicago Public Television.

After graduating from DePaul, he joined the faculty at Ball State, where he received his master's in music composition in 1972.

Reilly will perform a preview concert of his tour music at 8 p.m. Oct. 28 in Sursa Performance Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Reilly at 765-285-5582 or preilly@bsu.edu.

By Jennifer Regnier

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