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Tradition in the Future 《傳統與未來》2020

Vancouver Chinese Instrumental Music Society presents its first Online Symposium - Balancing the preservation and transference of traditional Chinese music with innovation in the 21st Century.

Tradition in the Future 《傳統與未來》2020

Vancouver Chinese Instrumental Music Society presents its first Online Symposium called Tradition in the Future. This event took place over zoom in 2020, endeavouring to find connection, preservation and transference of traditional Chinese music. To view documented recordings, check out the Symposium youtube channel




Saturday, August 1, 2020, 3 pm PDT

[Sunday, August 2, 2020, 6 am Beijing; 12 am Paris]

Conference will take place via Zoom. To register and receive a link to the Zoom Meeting, send your name, address, e-mail and telephone number to

The Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble (VCME) will be hosting its first-ever online symposium, Tradition in the Future, on Saturday, August 1st, 2020, from 3pm to 5pm (Pacific Time), featuring presentations by international speakers and musical performances by the ensemble’s professional musicians. 

Science and technology present both new possibilities and challenges for Chinese music. On one hand, social media and the Internet are breaking down the physical barriers between people, making even the rarest kinds of music accessible within a single click from one’s home. Modernization, social and cultural changes, nonetheless, are shaking up the niche of unique traditions and genres both in China and around the world at an unprecedented pace. At the crux of these phenomena is the question of how to adequately reconcile the preservation, transmission — and renewal — of traditional practices with the need for innovation.

The symposium will bring together specialists of ancient and traditional Chinese music from around the world to explore this complex topic. The program will feature presentations on:

13-stringed zither notations derived from the Tang dynasty (Prof. Steven Nelson, Japan)

Software-assisted deciphering of the 10th-century Dunhuang pipa notations (Dr. Weiping Wang and Vincent Boucheau, France);

Kunqu opera vocal techniques (Rui Chen, China);

Chinese music in 18th and 19th-century European and Japanese sources (Prof. François Picard, France);

The yin-yang nature of traditional Chinese music (Gordon Lee, U.S.)

Online Chinese music resources and possible future directions (David Badagnani, U.S.)

In particular, the symposium will feature the world premiere performance of an instrumental piece, Tianzi Wannian 《天子萬年》, recently discovered and reconstructed by Professor Picard, in addition to the reporting of the earliest known version of the famous tune, Moli Hua 《茉莉花》 to-date, a discovery by Dr. Wang. 

The symposium is intended for scholars, musicians and music lovers alike, and will be moderated by Composer-in-Residence, Alan Lau, with musical performances led by Artistic Director, Jirong Huang (erhu), along with Sarah Tan (guzheng), Zhongxi Wu (sheng/guanzi/suona), as well as special guest artists Kahoru Nakamura (gaku-biwa), Colin Cheng (dizi), Rob Hassing (hourglass drum) and Courtney Lambert (barrel drum). As David Badagnani, presenter and event co-organizer points out, through such a cross-cultural, multi-media, and multi-perspective approach to researching historical Chinese music as well as living traditions, it is hoped that the symposium “will breathe new life into the concert repertoire of current Chinese music ensembles, so that the scope of our programming will encompass more diversity than the typical, agreed-upon standard pieces that one expects to hear.”

Formed in 1989, Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble is the first professional Chinese music group established in Canada. The ensemble performs an eclectic repertoire that embraces traditional Chinese and contemporary Canadian music. Its primary educational goal is to advance the understanding and appreciation of Chinese instruments, music and culture in Canada.

The Tradition in the Future symposium will be delivered in English via Zoom (with some presentations in Mandarin with English subtitles), followed by a Q&A session. The number of participants is limited; to register, please contact:  Zoom passcode will be sent out approximately two days prior to the event. For more information, please visit:

Saturday, Aug 1, 2020 (Pacific Time)

Event Schedule

2:30-3:00pm: Pre-event screening of VCME past performance videos

3:00-5:00pm: Tradition in the Future Symposium

After 5:00pm: Q&A session

Presentation Topics 

1. Tradition in the Future: Introduction and Overview (Alan Lau 劉嘉麟, Canada)

 《傳統與未來: 論壇介紹》

2. Reading Notation for 13-Stringed Zither Deriving from Tang China: Tunings and Performance Techniques Relating to Pitch (Prof. Steven Nelson, Japan)

《唐傳十三弦箏樂譜解讀: 與音高相關之定弦考量及演奏技巧》

3. The Investigation and Software-Aided Deciphering of the Dunhuang Pipa Tablatures (Dr. Weiping Wang 王維平博士 and Vincent Boucheau, France)


4. The Essential Elements of Traditional Kunqu Singing and Recitation (Rui Chen 陳睿, China)


5. 18th and 19th-Century Chinese Music through European and Japanese Sources (Prof. François Picard, France)


6. What is the Yin-Yang Nature of Traditional Chinese Music? (G(Gordon Lee 謝坦, U.S.) 《甚麼是國樂的陰陽特性?》

7. The Thousand-Li View: Current Status and Possible Future Directions of Chinese Music in the West (David Badagnani, U.S.)

《欲窮千里目: 二十一世紀中華音樂之發展與前瞻》

With musical performances by:

Jirong Huang 黃繼榮 (VCME Artistic Director; erhu)

Sarah Tan 譚宇莎 (guzheng)

Zhongxi Wu 吳忠喜 (sheng/guanzi/suona)

Special Appearances by:

Kahoru Nakamura 中村 かほる (gaku-biwa)

Colin Cheng 程舒嘯 (dizi)

Rob Hassing (hourglass drum)

Courtney Lambert (barrel drum)

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