May 19, 2013 marked a pivotal moment for the students, as they departed Beijing and headed to Baoding, which is approximately 2 hours south of Beijing. Here, the orchestra performed at two different venues in Baoding. In December 2012, Dr. Ransdell met at Hebei University for a number of reasons, but most importantly to view the auditorium in which the students would be performing. What was found was a nice exterior building, and an interior that was unfinished. After discussions, Hebei University vowed to have the new facility operational by the May 20th concert, and they delivered in high fashion. This beautiful auditorium was completed, and absolutely immaculate. Thus, on May 20th, the Symphony at WKU took stage, and was the first group to perform in this newly finished auditorium. Over 850 students, faculty, and members from the community enjoyed the performance.
Earlier that afternoon, the WKU delegation led by Dr. David Lee (dean of Potter College of Arts & Letters) Dr. Andrew McMichael (assistant dean of Potter College of Arts & Letters), Dr. Wei-Ping Pan (assistant to the President, director of Confucius Institute and Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology), Mr. Raza Tiwana (assistant director of International Admissions), Mr. Ryan Hall (director of ASLI program), Ms. Betty Yu (associate director of educational outreach Confucius Institute), and Mr. Terrill Martin (associate director for business development – Confucius Institute) met to discuss the enhancement of the 2 + 2 program with Hebei University that is presently only for business students. Dr. David Lee (dean of Potter College of Arts & Letters) discussed the possibility of adding English as another major option, which would increase the enrollment of Hebei University students under this program on the campus of WKU, as early as Spring 2014. In addition, Hebei University shared cultural exchange performances with the Symphony at WKU students. Amongst the performances was an introduction to traditional Chinese instruments, traditional Chinese dance, and martial arts.
As the trip to Baoding was winding down, a trip to Zhenhua Martial Arts School was next on the agenda for the students. Official martial arts masters performed various demonstrations from breaking cylinder blocks over their torsos, heads, bending spears with their necks, and capped the evening festivities with an authentic lion dance performance. Next, the final performance of the tour was commenced, which ended on the campus of North China Electric Power University’s Baoding campus. Dean David Lee welcomed the packed crowd of approximately 1,000 students, faculty and community members to performance by the Symphony at WKU. Again, in typical fashion, the night was capped off with “ENCORE” chant, and again, the orchestra complied with the request from the capacity crowd.
For some, the trip was over with the finale at NCEPU Baoding, as 21 individuals returned to the states on May 22, 2013, while the other 35 individuals went to Beijing airport to set flight for a three nights, four day excursion to beautiful Xi’an (Shaanxi Province), the home of the Terracotta Warriors. This leg of the trip included a tour of the Terracotta Warrior Museum, Pottery workshop, Muslim Quarters, visit to watch Dr. Ching-Yi Lin teach a class at the Xi’an Conservatory of Music, and a first class farewell dinner with both the students and alumni groups.