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Nancy Yunhwa Rao Speaks About Chinese Opera

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The following is a guest post by Wendi Maloney of the Library’s Office of Communications. It is an excerpt of this longer post, which originally appeared on the Library of Congress Blog.

Music scholar Nancy Yunhwa Rao will discuss her research and her new book at the Library of Congress at noon on August 9 in the American Folklife Center’s next Benjamin A. Botkin Lecture. Visit this link for more details!

In the book, Chinatown Opera Theater in North America, Rao tells the story of how Chinatown opera, performed initially to entertain Chinese immigrants, developed into an important part of America’s musical culture.  Drawing on new Chinese- and English-language research—including sources at the Library of Congress—she unmasks the backstage world of Chinese opera while also looking at the role of Chinatown theaters in shaping Chinese-American identities and the birth of modern American music.

Rao is professor of music at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She has studied connections between China and the West and published on the ways in which modern composers of Chinese origin draw on the gestures, vocal styles, and percussion patterns of Chinese opera. She has also explored other aspects of American music, including the life and contributions of American composer Ruth Crawford Seeger.

In 2012, Rao spent time in residency at the Library of Congress as a recipient of Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund Award, established to make the collections of primary ethnographic materials housed at the Library available to researchers.

For an interview with Rao about her book, please visit this post on the Library of Congress Blog.


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