Storysinging and storytelling in China

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
plus Oct, 1719 2014

This conference follows up and further develops a series of meetings and performances featuring Chinese music that the Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies has been promoting for several years in collaboration with CHIME (Foundation for Chinese Music Research, Leiden), the Department of Asian and North African Studies at the University of Venice and the Confucius Institute. The conference will bring together leading experts to discuss the theme of the storysinging tradition in China and to present research in the musicological and historical fields as well as that of studies in oral literature. The rich and varied conference programme will include performances and in-depth studies exploring the multiple aspects of Chinese narrative performing arts.

The event is intended to create an opportunity for an intense encounter between East and West through comparisons involving young artists and senior performers, and scholars and representatives of the ancient narrative arts. The aim is thus also to close the gap between the worlds of academic research and of performing arts while promoting mutual knowledge and fruitful exchanges.


Besides leading scholars on the theme, the greatest performers of this ancient art will come to Italy to illustrate a vast range of repertoires – traditional, modern, rural and urban, from northern and southern China. Three senior performers from the city of Yangzhou will attend: storytellers Ma Wei and Ren Dekun and storysinger Shen Zhifeng. The other performers include the storysinging duo of Gao Bowen and Lu Jinhua from Shanghai, specialised in the narrative genre called Suzhou tanci, and Dai Xiaolian, also from Shanghai, who plays the guqin (the classical Chinese zither) and will experiment with an accompaniment for tanci singers in qin songs. For the occasion, the recently much acclaimed star, Cai Yayi from Quanzhou will also perform. She sings nanguan or nanyin, heartrending love ballads, typical of southern China. Lastly, as a representative of the West, one of the great European-tradition storytellers has been invited: Abbi Patrix, from La Maison du Conte, Paris.

The academic curators of the conference are Frank Kouwenhoven, director of CHIME, and Vibeke Bordhal from the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (Denmark).

The conference and some performances will be held on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, while an evening performance, open to the public, will be staged at the Auditorium Santa Margherita, Venice.

For further information:


Download the conference programme