Topic: College of Fine Arts

April 9, 2012

A group of Ball State music students will bring the sounds of jazz to China this May as they tour the country on a trip to include a performance with the Beijing Jazz Orchestra.

Senior tenor saxophonist Evan Drybread said he's looking forward to introducing the distinct American style of music to a broader world audience. "From what we've been told, jazz is a form of music the Chinese have had little exposure to," he said. "We're looking forward to performing it for them as we experience a unique country."

The students will depart for the trip on May 8 as part of a newly established exchange partnership for the university's College of Fine Arts with China's Sichuan University. The goal is for a visiting delegation from Sichuan University — perhaps a dance troupe or ancient Chinese instrument ensemble — to visit Ball State in 2013.

"It's exciting to have a relationship with this university because of the wonderful artistic connections and the wonderful cultural exchanges we're initiating between our university in the U.S. and a major, emerging force in the world — China," said Robert Kvam, dean of Ball State's College of Fine Arts.

Mark Buselli, director of the school's jazz studies program, will serve as faculty mentor for the trip. He said the group is bringing three performance selections with them, ranging from a traditional Big Band jazz style of the 1940s to Latin and contemporary jazz. The Beijing stop of the 10-day tour will include a performance with the city's orchestra and a later stop for the group will find them playing three concerts at Sichuan University.

While in China, the group also will get to explore the country's most recognizable landmarks, from Tiananmen Square to the Great Wall. Graduate student and trumpet player Jen Johnson said she's looking forward to how the trip will influence her as a musician. "All your life experiences influence how you play and write music," she explained. "So the more experiences like this that you get to have, the more people you get to meet, the more you are affected as an artist."