February 23, 2022

Chinatown Opera Theater in North America A three-event keynote series featuring Nancy Yunhwa Rao (Professor and Head of Music Theory of Rutgers University)

Date: March 17-19, 2022
Funded by the UBC Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster

Event No. 1 – UBC Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster 2021-2022 Keynote Lecture

Title: "Archives of the Invisible in American Music: Tracing Transpacific Crossing of Chinese Opera" 
Date: Thursday, March 17, 2022
Time: 2:30 pm – 4 pm
Venue: Level 3, Room 302, Dodson Room, UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
Capacity: 40

Abstract: The defining tunes of the Chinese diaspora in the nineteenth century and the early twentieth were those of the Cantonese opera. This history, however, has been invisible largely due to the scarcity of Chinese materials in archives. Its sonic imageries were also imprisoned by the mounting derision in historical English newspapers and travelogues. What were the patterns of networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures? How did border crossing, listening practices, and visual emblems constitute their sounding identity? This talk offers readings against the grain and considers the ways that archives structure and frame not only our understanding of the past but how we enter into the present and future.

Event No.2 - Workshop on the UBC Chung Collection
Title: "Reading Archive—Against the Grain"
Date: Friday, March 18, 2022
Time: 1 pm to 2 pm
Venue: Seminar Room, UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
Capacity: 25

Abstract: Archives provide the pathway through which one can enter the historical field. Yet the scarcity of Chinese materials in institutional archives has long corroborated their inconsequence and invisibility in American history. This workshop explores ways that we might interrogate the archives, reading “against the grain” to resuscitate what was a lively music history of early Chinese immigrants. What to do with the risk of underscoring the authority of the archives, the weight of the yellowed historical documents? How can we create a space for sonic imagination unconfined by the words?

Event No.3 – Public Lecture
Title: “170 years of Chinese Opera Theatre in North America”
Date: Saturday, March 19, 2022
Time: 2 pm to 3:30 p.m.
Venue: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall Street, B.C. V6B 5K2)
Note: This event will include a live musical performance by members of the UBC Chinese Music Ensemble, directed by Dr. Gloria Wong Ngar-Yan, and an introduction to music and Chinatown in Vancouver in the 1920s by UBC alumna Emily Liang.
Capacity: 50 (10-15 more seats can be added depending on demand.)

Abstract: This talk traces the genealogy of Chinatown theaters in North America. Chinese migration in mid-19thcentury was accompanied by musicians as well as Chinese opera troupe. While they suffered from various forms of racial discrimination and violence throughout North America, they always had Chinese opera. We will consider the networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures, as well as the two golden periods of Cantonese opera theater in the 170 years of its history in North America.

All three events are free and open to UBC Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, staff, and the general public. Capacity is limited, and registration for one or more events via Eventbrite is required.

Registration Link