National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced on December 2nd that the North American Guqin Association (NAGA) is one of only 163 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Challenge America grant. The North American Guqin Association is recommended for a $10,000 grant to support a commemoration of the 1945 Library of Congress recordings of guqin master Zha Fuxi and related activities.
The guqin, a seven-stringed zither, is China’s oldest stringed instrument with an illustrious history spanning 3000 years. Historically, the guqin has been viewed as a symbol of Chinese high culture and the instrument effectively expresses the essence of Chinese music.
More than 100 harmonics can be played on the guqin, which probably is the largest number of harmonics of any instrument. The guqin has its own notation, that has a history of at least 1500 years. There are over 150 guqin handbooks in existence, containing in excess of 3,000 pieces of music as well as essays on the theoretical aspects of the guqin and its music.
In 2015 NAGA will present a guqin concert, recreating Zha Fuxi’s recordings on stage. A Chinese yaji (artists’ salon) will focus on the art form. Guqin master and former student of Zha Fuxi master Li Xiangting along with grand student Wang Fei will conduct a master class/workshop for the public. Staff will conduct initial archival research at the Library of Congress and produce a documentary CD of Zha Fuxi’s recordings.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Challenge America including the award to the North American Guqin Association. The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives.”
NAGA director Wang Fei, said: “Master Zha Fuxi, one of the outstanding guqin masters of the 20th century, made a series of recordings at the LOC In 1945, which are of great significance in the history of the guqin and a major contribution to the field of world music. During the Cultural Revolution he had to stop playing. Most of his work is unknown to the public.”
2015 will be the 120th anniversary of his birth and the 70th anniversary of the LOC recordings. The project will honor master Zha Fuxi’s contribution to the guqin and enable more people to know about the guqin, his life, and his music.
The goal of the project is to showcase how Zha Fuxi’s guqin art is still alive and continues to be inherited generation by generation, from China to the West. It will explain the importance of guqin music both in Chinese history and to world music. It will illustrate how guqin reflects the Chinese way of thinking, and will show how an understanding of guqin music is an extremely effective vehicle for introducing Chinese culture.
The Challenge America category supports projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. The NEA will award 163 grants for a total of $1.63 million.
The North American Guqin Association (NAGA) is a nonprofit cultural arts organization dedicated to the public presentation and preservation of the art of the guqin, spreading community appreciation of Chinese culture through the traditional art of the guqin and building a bridge for cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the Chinese and American communities. NAGA offers guqin classes, performances, recordings, and workshops.
More information available at the NAGA website: http://guqin.org/
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