April 10, 2007 11:00 pm

The support of the community in the Grande Ronde Valley helped make possible the EOU Chamber Choir's recent trip to China. We just returned and it was an amazing journey that exceeded expectations.

Our EOU Chamber Choir delivered five formal performances and several more informal performances throughout China. Every single performance met with enthusiastic acclaim. The expertise, dynamism and high caliber of Professor Peter Wordelman's conducting was evident throughout the trip. His leadership of these young people was aided by the organizational skills and musical expertise of Michael Frasier and by the brilliant new musical piece composed by Professor John McKinnon and debuted in China.

By traveling to China, the Chamber Choir made strong intercultural connections that expanded beyond their performances. In Lijiang, Yunnan, we were the first Western musical ensemble to perform in the village, which is noted for its musical tradition by the Naxi tribe. In Guilin we also made history in reaching the Dong village for an incredible interchange. In the more traditional venues in Shanghai and Beijing the audience was overwhelmed by the range of our music and the liveliness and craft of the singing. The EOU Chamber Choir learned three Chinese songs and these were received with what can only be described as wild approval and joy by Chinese audiences everywhere.

The trip not only was supported by you, our community, but we were accompanied by 20 community members in a "shadow tour," so that Eastern Oregonians could experience China with the choir. These wonderful people, your neighbors, gave the choir such tremendous moral support and were so enthusiastic about this trip that it magnified the effect of this journey. They really added so much value by their gracious presence.

I have been a scholar of China and traveled to Asia since 1981, but I have never had such a wonderful group experience as this trip. I not only was proud to be associated with such a talented group of young people and professors, but the civility and delight with which everyone undertook this adventure was exemplary. I am grateful that I was allowed to be a part of the activities.

I know the professors, students and community travelers all will agree that our community support was crucial to these successes and we express our deep appreciation.

Marilyn A. Levine is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at EOU.