Dilworth Directs Mass Choir in China

Rollo Dilworth directing choir in China

CHICAGO, IL (April 9, 2008) – Political tensions over China have dominated the news, but Rollo Dilworth hopes that recent concerts in the Asian superpower will help foster goodwill among the people of that nation and others.

Dilworth, professor of music and director of choral programs at North Park University, directed a choir of 340 students from five United States high schools during performances in Shanghai and Beijing. The concerts were held in the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.

Among its selections, the choir performed "Harmony", a piece Dilworth composed. "I wrote it in Chinese," he says.

Dilworth was able to accomplish this feat because he speaks Mandarin. He learned the language during four years of study at St. Louis University High School.

The choir sang to the Chinese, and a Chinese choir responded in kind. The choirs combined to sing "Jasmine Flower", a traditional tune known to nearly every Chinese child, in the native language.

"The Chinese are very gracious people and are very proud of their cultural heritage," Dilworth says. "They were very appreciative that the American choir members would learn music that represented their culture and language. They know how difficult their language is."

The two performances were part of a series of concerts being held in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an in the months leading up to the summer Olympics. Four thousand young musicians from the United States and Canada are participating.

This music festival is sponsored by Kingsway International in corporation with the Children & Young Women's Chorus of the China National Symphony Orchestra.

Dilworth says he was honored to be chosen to direct the choir. "I know there are so many others they could have chosen."

The Chinese were impressed by his work. The director of the Shanghai Philharmonic has invited Dilworth to return in December of 2009.