Shanren in Medina, OH

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The Shanren residency was hosted by ORMACO (Ohio Regional Music, Arts, and Cultural Outreach) and located in the Medina area, 50 miles south of Cleveland.

The first workshop was at the Cloverleaf Elementary School in Seville, Ohio, with almost 1,000 students from K through 8th grades. Young kindergarteners plus 1st and 2nd graders sat on the gym floor quietly and participated in all programs very well.

Elementary school workshop
Students volunteer to participate in Shanren’s workshop at Cloverleaf Elementary School. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

During the week we gave evening workshops at three libraries in Lodi, Medina, and Buckeye. We enjoyed having rooms full of attendees at all the libraries. We asked for volunteers and, as always, many enthusiastic participants raised their hands. The participants were given drums and gongs, and then to finish the workshops, they formed a line to dance.

At Buckeye Library located next to Buckeye High School, several high school students attended the workshop after school. One student was so intrigued and wished to attend the final public concert, so he called his parents to ask permission. The student handed his phone to Thomas Sigel, our community contact, to convince his parents to allow him to come to the concert!

The reaction of this one student may seem insignificant, but when he heard Shanren’s music and foreign language and learned about their culture, he was excited and wanted to learn more. He will then share this personal experience with his family, friends, and so on. This is what Arts Midwest World Fest brings to these communities.

Group photo with language students
Mandarin language students at Highland High School. The band uses three fingers as a sign for their group because it imitates the first Chinese character in the band’s name: 山人 or “Shanren.” Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

On Shanren’s day off, we drove to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. “So how was it?” I asked Sam, the interpreter and manager for Shanren. He said, “It was COOL!” Shanren members laughed and remarked that it’s a long, long way to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Bryan Mravec, tech specialist from Highland High School, met us at the museum, gave us a mini-tour of Cleveland, and took us to a Sichuan restaurant for dinner. It was definitely authentic, and every dish was spicy—HOT, HOT, HOT. Shanren loved it.

Students on stage with the band in a fighting dragon pose
During a mini-concert at Northwest High School, everyone—young and old—enjoyed participating in the “Dragon Fight” dance. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

The final concert in Medina—and the final concert of this tour—was Saturday, November 22 at 8 pm. Cold weather didn’t stop people interested in hearing Chinese ethnic music with a rock flair, and Shanren filled Highland High School auditorium. The stage was set like a rock and roll show, with multi-colored lights and spotlights that lit each performer as the songs were played. One piece they played for the first time on this tour was called “Shanren,” and it was a fusion of Chinese ethnic music with modern rock. They audience loved it, and the applause was loud and long.

Teaching dance moves in the school lobby
In the lobby after the mini-concert at Northwest High School, people still wanted to learn Shanren’s dance moves. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

Shanren on stage, waving to audience
Shanren gives a final wave and “thank you” to the audience at the concert in Medina, Ohio. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.


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