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Updated 10:00 AM November 2, 2009

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Confucius Institute celebrates opening with major public events

University officials welcome the campus community to celebrate the opening of the Confucius Institute at U-M on Thursday.

The day's events will culminate at 7:30 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium, where members of the Chinese Ensemble of Renmin University of China will present a performance of Chinese music, featuring internationally renowned pipa artist Yang Wei.

"The Confucius Institute at U-M is unique among the 60 Confucius Institutes in the United Sates, in that we will serve as the national repository on Chinese arts and culture for the entire network," says Lester Monts, senior vice provost of academic affairs. "Drawing on the university's vast interdisciplinary China resources, CI at U-M will significantly advance China-related opportunities within the university community and well beyond.

"The many Chinese dignitaries who are traveling to Ann Arbor for the celebration underscores the international significance and unique nature of CI at UM. We are pleased to invite the public to join this very special celebration."

The concert will be preceded at 1:30 p.m. by the institute's inaugural lecture by Martin Powers, who will address "De-familiarizing the Exotic: Appreciating the Arts of China in the 21st Century." Powers, who is the Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese Arts and Cultures, will deliver his remarks in the Stern Auditorium of the U-M Museum of Art.

Noted for its refined and delicate tone, the pipa is a four-stringed pear-shaped wooden instrument that has been played for nearly 2,000 years in China. Pipa virtuoso Yang Wei, has performed for and inspired audiences throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. Since 2000 he has toured with the celebrated Silk Road Project, performing alongside legendary cellist Yo Yo Ma. In the United States, Wei has performed at the Ravinia International Music Festival, Lincoln Center and the Chicago Symphony Center.

Members of the Chinese Ensemble of Renmin University of China also will travel to Ann Arbor to celebrate the opening of the Confucius Institute. This award-winning orchestra, whose members hail from many different departments throughout Renmin University, has been popularizing traditional music since its founding, enabling growing numbers of people to become familiar with and enjoy traditional Chinese music. Members of the orchestra also offer free classes to students who want to learn to play musical instruments. In February 2009 the orchestra won first prize (musical instruments group) at the Second National Arts Exposition and Performance for University Students in Nanjing, China.

The Confucius Institute is located at 715 North University St., Suite 201. For more information go to

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