The University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Voices of Parkside choir is hosting a cultural exchange this week, welcoming a choir from Jianghan University, located in Wuhan, China.

The two choral groups will perform two free concerts: 7 p.m. Friday in UW-Parkside’s Bedford Concert Hall and 7 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Racine.

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 through Monday (May 27), and the UW-Parkside group will be in China June 9-19.

Professor Zhi Yong Chen and his choir of 22 students are spending a week at UW-Parkside with James Kinchen and his elite choir, Voices of Parkside.

The two ensembles will share meals, visit Chicago and the Art Institute, and spend two afternoons exploring Racine and Kenosha.

The groups’ 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.

While she was at UW-Parkside, 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 the exchange.

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