Manhu in Marietta, OH

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Manhu was welcomed to Marietta at a reception at the People’s Bank Theater where the ensemble will perform its public concert. We were surprised and pleased to see many Chinese students, professors and staff from Marietta College. Many could speak Mandarin so Manhu felt very comfortable meeting these community people.

Chuck Swaney, Bradford Smith and Hunt Brawley listen to Manhu’s Blessing song.

Ken Carlson came to visit Manhu one last time on this tour. Andrew Xao, Chinese language teacher of high school and middle school, Awa, percussionist, and Ken Carlson toast to the beginning of our residency in Marietta.

The first workshop was at the O’Neill Senior Center. The audience listened to Manhu and the explanation of Sani culture. At the end of the workshop, audience members are asked to participate in dancing. A few ladies stood up holding onto their walkers and started to dance. One, two, three swings and kick, kick. It’s amazing to watch them enjoy dancing. Maybe they are reminiscing about the past.

Phillips and Putnam Elementary school children were bussed to the People’s Bank Theater. Wang Tao teaches them how to play ordinary leaves. It’s rare that anyone can play a leaf on their first try. It takes a lot of practice. Josh (far right), after three weeks of trying, finally managed to get a sound which he was pleased to demonstrate.

In the afternoon Washington and Harmar Elementary Schools walked over to the People’s Bank Theater. The full student audience danced to Frère Jacques, but the version sung in Yunnan Province. Every student gets a big kick out of hearing the song in Chinese. The song and dance describe two roaring tigers, they run and run, one has no eyes and one has no tail, how odd that is! How strange that is!

Here’s a photo from our workshop in the Marietta Middle school gymnasium. We expected 150-200 students, but the whole school of over 600 students came and sat on the bleachers and floor.

Here’s a photo from First Friday of the month event in Marietta. People come out and merchants stay open late. Manhu set up in the public park and gave a mini performance. During the week, Manhu performed workshops for over 1,500 school children. People on the street heard the music coming from the park and children recognized the song and brought their parents. Soon dozens of children formed a line and started to dance. Parents watched, local residents stopped by to see the festive event in the public park.

It’s the last day in Marietta and public concert night. Manhu friends, Maddy and Clark, fiddle players, drove from Asheville to join them. Clark and Maddy have a band called Jenny and Hog Drovers, a country and bluegrass band that visited Manhu in Yunnan province last January. Fiddle, banjo and Manhu’s ethnic instruments are the perfect match for folk music. The two bands collaborated, produced songs and toured China. Tonight Manhu invited them to the stage and played Third Month Festival, one of the songs of their collaboration.