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J. F. Oberlin University students perform Beijing Opera in China

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Confucius Institute, from March 17 to the 25th, a group of J. F. Oberlin students performed Beijing Opera selections in Beijing and Tianjin. The performances were sponsored by the Confucius Institute at J. F. Oberlin University and the Confucius Institute Headquarters and were hosted by Tianjin Foreign Studies University, National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, and the Communication University of China. The Embassy of Japan in China and the Education Section of the Embassy of China in Japan also supported the event.

This is the second such performance tour; the first went to Shanghai in 2012. University Vice President Koichi Lee led the 50-person delegation from J. F. Oberlin University and the Confucius Institute, which included faculty, staff, current students, and graduates. The students performed a new program which hadn’t been performed during the 2012 tour. On the first day at Tianjin Foreign Studies University, the audience of more than 500 included Xiu Gang, President of Tianjin Foreign Studies University. Students of Tianjin Foreign Studies University also performed several Japanese songs.

In Beijing, the students performed at National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, which is famous as the best institute in China at which to train to become a Beijing Opera actor or actress, and in the audience was the institute’s Vice President Ba Tu. Professor Yuan Yingming and Yin Qiurui, who teach J. F. Oberlin’s Beijing Opera course, both graduated from National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. The students had a good experience observing classes and exchanging opinions with Chinese students who play the same roles in the selections they were to perform.

It was an honor to have Wang Yongli, Deputy Secretary-General of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, Takashi Ishitobi, Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan in China, and Yuan Jun, Vice President of the Communication University of China, at the final performance. Afterward, Yang Guangjun, Executive Director of the Confucius Institute at J. F. Oberlin University, received an honorary degree, and Professor Yuan Yingming received a commemorative performance certificate from the School of Literature at the Communication University of China.

In all, some 2,000 people watched the three performances. The major Japanese and Chinese media, including CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, Asahi Simbun and other outlets, reported on the tour. Many people praised the performances, saying such things as, “It was amazing that Japanese students could perform Beijing Opera at such a high level.”

At present, the relationship between Japan and China is strained; therefore, the promotion of mutual understanding between Japanese and Chinese university students through cultural exchange takes on a greater significance. These performances brought significant results.