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Wilson S. Mah of the Loong Mah Sing See Wui collaborating with Melody of China

Award: $35,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2003

Premiered:  May 16, 2004   

 This collaboration brought together the ancient Chinese art forms of lion dancing and music. Lion dancers from the Loong Mah Sing See Wui performed newly choreographed routines to new musical works by composer Gang Situ.  The score for “A Music Dialogue with Dancing Lions,” was performed by the master Chinese musicians of Melody of China. It was written for traditional Chinese wind and percussion instruments.

According to lead artist Wilson S. Mah,  “Historically the lion dancers dance to traditional lion drum beats and patterns, accompanied by cymbals and a gong.  Unfortunately , these beats are limited in helping to express what emotions the lions are capable of acting.  For this performance, choreography will match the musical nuances of Melody of China’s flutes, woodwinds, stringed instruments, and, of course, dynamic percussion instruments.”

In 1994 Wilson S. Mah formed Loong Mah Sing See Wui (Dragon Horse Lion Dance Association), to preserve, teach, and perpetuate lion dancing.  It has 300 members (80 of them active) of third, fourth, and fifth generation Chinese Americans as well as multi-cultural children and adults.  Loong Mah is known for the vibrant colors of its lions, fresh approach, and exotic choreography.

Melody of China, created by Hong Wang and Yangqin Zhao in San Francisco in 1993,  plays a repertoire of classical, opera, contemporary, and folk music on traditional Chinese instruments.  Its goals are to promote Chinese musical heritage, provide concerts throughout the country, and to provide ongoing instruction in Chinese music.

A native of Shanghai, China, Gang Situ has composed many works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, and dance, including works incorporating traditional Chinese instruments. His compositions have been performed in China, Europe, Canada, and the United States.