Chinese Composer Xiang Ao’s Mandala Symphony

September 28, 2017

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12;
Visiting Chinese artists give talks, perform folk music, Oct. 6–12

Three master musicians from China’s highly regarded Sichuan Conservatory of Music are coming to Tacoma to perform an original symphony and Chinese folk music, as well as give talks on Chinese music and music education.

Xiang Ao, a composer of classical music, pop music, contemporary works, and film and television soundtracks, will sit in as the University of Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra performs his symphony Mandala, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12. Everyone is welcome to the free concert in Schneebeck Concert Hall, near the corner of N. 14th Street and Union Ave. Tickets are not required.

The concert will cap a 10-day visit by Ao, associate professor of composition; his wife, folk singer, and lecturer, Jia Mao; and Juanjuan Pu, teacher of musicology. Sichuan conservatory, in Chengdu, China, has more than 400 professors and 14,000 students and is reputed to be the largest conservatory in the world.

Also open to the public will be a talk by Xiang Ao at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, about his composition Mandala, and about music education in China and his path to becoming a composer. The 50-minute lecture will be in the Music Building, Room L-6, near the north end of campus. A map and directions are below.

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 10 a.m., folk singer Jia Mao will be joined by professors Ao and Pu for a Chinese folk singing demonstration and talk. The public are welcome to the event in the Music Building, Room L-6.

The Mandala performance will follow on Thursday, with a reception afterward in Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall. As part of their residency, the artists also will give talks to Puget Sound School of Music students and students at Pacific Lutheran University.

The visit reciprocates a trip to China early this fall by Maria Sampen, Puget Sound professor of violin. Sampen and affiliate artist Tim Christie were guests of the Sichuan conservatory for its International Baroque Music Week. They performed a recital with the Chinese students, and Sampen gave a violin master class and a lecture, “The Influence of Dance in the Music of J.S. Bach.”

Xiang Ao’s works have been performed in Australia, the United States, Japan, and South Korea. His distinctive and innovative styles in pieces such as The Night of Kuo Shi Festival and Mei Flower have garnered him prizes in London, China, and South Korea. Mandala was commissioned earlier this year by the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra.

Juanjuan Pu studied at Sichuan Conservatory of Music and has been on the faculty since 2005. She teaches courses on Western and Chinese music, and Chinese folk music. She is the author of Western Music History and Masterpieces (2013).

Jia Mao, lecturer in vocal music, performs frequently in China and abroad, and has won awards in major competitions. She was a visiting scholar at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, where she performed solo recitals and featured in a local music festival.

The residency is made possible by the Matthew Norton Clapp Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the School of Music and Asian Studies Program.

For directions and a map of the campus:
For accessibility information please contact or 253.879.3931, or visit

Press photos of the artists are available upon request.
Photos on page: From top right: Xiang Ao, Juanjuan Pu, Jia Mao (courtesy of the artists)

For more music events visit the School of Music calendar.

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