Date: Saturday, Jan 19th
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Location: Logan Center for the Arts, Screening Room 201
This event was made possible with the support of UChicago Arts, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Center for East Asian Studies, Fire Escape Films, Chinese Undergraduate Students Association, Chamber Music Organization, and Maroon TV.
Purpose of Event: For the past three years, China has experienced a new wave in folk music. The niche community involved in this wave, including both music artists and music lovers, is mainly Chinese urban youths living in China’s rapidly developing urban environments. This community has found an outlet for expressing their innermost concerns about modern Chinese society and customs in the post-socialist era, one that transitions from a socialist economy towards a global market economy.
Modern Chinese folk music artists seek to return to a time of simplicity and grace, to be one with nature, whether it is a utopia painted by their lyrics or an existent grassland in the rural plains of Dali. These lyrics revert back to a traditional, poetic style, and the instrumentals are often simple, with just a guitar and sometimes with harmonicas or even the Morin khuur. As popular independent folk music artist Yao Shisan (尧十三) mentions, "Sometimes [folk music] is more down-to-earth, like a plant that grows from the soil. It's very obstinate."
While independent Chinese folk music is now widely recognized in China, it is barely known outside of the country, thus I hope this event will bring more awareness to this music wave within the larger context of Chinese urban youth's search for their own identities and sense of belonging in modern-day China.
Guest Music Artist: Cha Jiyang (茶季杨) is an independent music artist from the city of Dali (大理) who has come to Beijing to chase his music dream. While most people in China are of Han ethnicity, Cha is of Yi ethnicity, which is a Chinese minority ethnic group. His songs include elements of folk music traditions unique to his hometown, mixed with characteristics of world music and modern music. It will be his first time coming to the United States, and he is very excited to share his music and stories with an international audience. [Cha is featured on the Facebook cover photo.]
Film Introduction: Hearken 倾听 is an independent documentary film directed and produced by UChicago undergrad Sarah Liu during the summer of 2017. It was filmed over the course of three months in China in the cities of Beijing (main), Shanghai, and Hefei. The film crew consisted of UChicago undergraduate students, Renmin University undergraduate new media students, and film production friends based in Beijing. This film was made possible with the support of Fire Escape Films.
Film Synopsis: Urban life has grown upon the next generation of Chinese youth struggling to live in the city while also holding on to Chinese folk traditions. Hearken follows the lives of seven independent music artists who pour their hearts into making music while simultaneously struggling to maintain a living in the lavishly expensive but culturally fervent city of Beijing. Their songs revert back to older times of simplicity and grace and to a better place crafted by mother nature. Perhaps it is only through song that they may create their own utopia, and it is only through their music may we understand their life stories.