James Kinchen, seen directing the Voices of Parkside at a graduation ceremony in 2017, will host a choir from China for two concerts.

The Voices of Parkside members are perfecting their Mandarin as they prepare to sing “The Moon Represents My Heart,” one of the best-known Chinese pop songs of all time, for two concerts next week.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside choir is hosting a choir from from Jianghan University, located in Wuhan, China.

The choirs will perform together in the two free concerts.

Both choirs will also get the opportunity to experience each other’s music and culture in a collaboration UW-Parkside is calling “Two Worlds, One Art.”

The Jianghan University singers will be in Wisconsin May 20-27; the UW-Parkside group will be in China June 9-19.

Professor Zhi Yong Chen will bring his choir of 22 students to spend a week at UW-Parkside with James Kinchen and his elite choir, Voices of Parkside.

While preparing to perform two concerts with Voices, the visiting group will get a chance to explore the Midwest. The two ensembles will share meals, visit Chicago and the Art Institute, and spend two afternoons exploring Racine and Kenosha.

On May 24, the two groups will perform a concert in Bedford Hall. Some selections will be performed with both choirs together, and some will be performed separately. They will repeat the concert on May 25 at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Racine.

The program has been in preparation for more than a year. Kinchen traveled to and taught at Jianghan University in June of 2018. There, he worked with the university’s choirs on a selection of Western songs for them to sing in Wisconsin. Those pieces include “Alleleuia” by Randall Thompson, “A Boy and a Girl” by Eric Whitacre, “Kyrie” by Mozart, “Joshua,” arranged by Moses Hogan, and “The Awakening” by Joseph Martin.

After the local concerts, the Voices of Parkside — along with Kinchen, George Wang from the Institute of China Studies and UW-Parkside jazz professor Russ Johnson — will travel to China and spend one week at Jianghang University, where they will have a chance to visit the city of Wuhan and perform two concerts.

The partnership between UW-Parkside and Jianghan University was forged back in the fall of 2017 when the UW-Parkside Music Department welcomed Professor Lilly Zhang for six months as a visiting scholar.

Zhang researched American music pedagogies, sang in Kinchen’s Master Singers choir and performed a concert for a packed house. Kinchen traveled to China the next summer to cement our exchange.