April 14, 2014—In 2013, the UO’s gospel program turned thirty, and to celebrate, program director Andiel Brown introduced his ensemble’s joyful noise to a whole new stage: the People’s Republic of China.
Ziyi Pan, who graduated from the UO in 2012 with a bachelor of arts in music and a minor in business, was instrumental in smoothing the way for Brown and his students to make the trip.
These days, Pan is CEO of the Los Angeles–based branch of China’s Haiyun Music School, but while at the UO she was herself a member of the Gospel Ensemble.
Pan and the Haiyun School provided financial assistance, secured performance spaces, and arranged for instruments, musicians, and advertising for each stop on the itinerary. The UO students sang at the Great Wall of China, as well as at music conservatories and other institutions, in their state-sponsored visit.
Visiting a secular nation, the ensemble found that gospel was almost wholly unknown in China, a sentiment that Pan echoes.
Pan said she originally enrolled in the Gospel Ensemble only to fulfill a curricular requirement. Soon, she says, “I totally fell in love with this type of music, which I had never seen in China.”
“Gospel breaks through the traditional knowledge of Chinese music,” she adds.
Central Oregon gospel fans will have an opportunity to enjoy a performance by the UO Gospel Singers later this month, when the ensemble performs at the Tower Theatre in Bend, Oregon on Wednesday, April 23. Titled "A Night of Inspiration," the performance will feature a mix of traditional gospel favorites and chart-topping modern pop hits.