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FSU Chamber Choir Sets the Stage for Meaningful Connections with China through Overseas Performances

FSU Chamber Choir Sets the Stage for Meaningful Connections with China through Overseas Performances
Learning Chinese songs; Choir performance; Choir on The Great Wall of China
To view photos and a narrative of the trip so far, click on the link below.

The Frostburg State University Chamber Choir is taking its talents overseas to forge friendships and cultural connections with China during a tour to Beijing and to Hunan Province March 6 through 14. During the trip, the 26-member Choir will give a variety of performances at locations such as the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven and Hunan Normal University, where FSU is laying the groundwork for educational opportunities and exchanges between the two institutions.

“I’m really pleased that our students, faculty and staff will have an opportunity to experience the people and culture of China,” said FSU President Jonathan Gibralter, who noted that the Chamber Choir’s visit is one of several ongoing efforts to foster strong ties between FSU’s community and that of Hunan Normal University. “I hope they will better understand the importance of our global impact on the rest of the world, and how we can learn so much by experiencing other countries. It is critical that Frostburg State University and all American universities continue to emphasize international education as a key component of learning and to open our doors to students from around the world.”

The Chamber Choir’s preparation for its timely overseas touring opportunity—just months before Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympic Games—began back in January, when Choir members returned from the University’s winter break several days early to begin rigorous rehearsals and to attend several trip orientation sessions. The group also took advantage of cultural events in Frostburg to rehearse its prepared program for China—when FSU hosted a special Chinese New Year celebration in February, the Choir sang selected songs as part of the festivities.

“The music the Choir will be performing is exceptionally beautiful,” said Karen Soderberg-Sarnaker, FSU Chamber Choir director and chair of FSU’s Department of Music, who noted the group will perform “Usuli Boat Song,” a Chinese folk song for which they mastered pronunciation of Chinese lyrics. “Learning it has been a transforming experience in itself.”

While in China, the Chamber Choir plans to give concerts at Beijing High School No. 80 and at Hunan Normal University. The group also anticipates giving impromptu performances at inspiring locales such as the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven. Mark Gallagher, FSU’s assistant professor of clarinet who is accompanying the Choir to China, is also scheduled to give several recitals.

In addition to giving concerts, FSU faculty, staff and students will spend time exploring some of China’s most scenic spots and meeting with Chinese students, faculty and staff at Hunan Normal University to fully experience China and its unique cultures and geography. But at the heart of the journey is the invitation of song the Choir members will extend to their new friends in China.

“Music is a translinguistic mode of communication,” Soderberg-Sarnaker said. “It reaches and touches people and makes highly subtle truths accessible, where other more rational forms of thought and communication cannot reach.”

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 13 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland.

For more information about FSU, contact the Office of Admissions at 301-687-4201 or visit the University’s Web site at

Web Address for More Information:

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589