Shanghai Jazz: A Culture Mix

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 7:30pm

This is a past event.

Bovard Auditorium (ADM)
3551 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Admission is free. Reservations required. RSVP beginning Tuesday, October 15, at 9 a.m. 


In 1935, Los Angeles–based musician Buck Clayton formed a jazz band called Harlem Gentlemen to perform in Shanghai. Li Jinhui, who is considered the father of Chinese popular music, had been performing in the “Paris of the East” for years when Clayton and his colleagues arrived. Clayton and Li eventually worked together to form a new and unique blend of American jazz and Chinese traditional music.

This boundary-breaking performance will celebrate Li Jinhui and Buck Clayton’s collaboration. USC Thornton School of Music professor Ron McCurdy and alum Gary Shields have reimagined and orchestrated three suites of Li Jinhui’s folk songs. Blending three cultures—Western art music (classical), American jazz, and traditional Chinese music—the concert will feature the Ron McCurdy Quintet, Feng Bian on piano, and Min Xiao-Fen on pipa, a traditional Chinese string instrument. The performance will also include historical video footage reflecting the artists, iconic buildings, and culture of Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s.

Pianist Feng Bian entered the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in 2001 and made his orchestral debut with the Colburn Orchestra in March 2010, when he performed the Poulenc concerto for two pianos. His strong interest in chamber music has led him to participate in several music festivals, including Morningside Music Bridge and the Sarasota Music Festival. Bian has received numerous prizes and awards in his native China, as well as a 2004 Yamaha Scholarship.
Ronald C. McCurdy is a professor in the USC Thornton School of Music, where he served as chair of the jazz department from 2002 to 2008. The leader and trumpet player for the Ron McCurdy Quartet is also a consultant to the GRAMMY Foundation educational programs, director of the National GRAMMY Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Combo, consultant to the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA), director of the Walt Disney All-American College Band, and performing artist for the Yamaha International Corporation.
Pipa player, singer, and composer Min Xiao-Fen was a soloist with the Nanjing Traditional Music Orchestra in China before moving to the United States in 1992. Since then, she has been a featured soloist at the Lincoln Center Festival, the New York Guitar Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and the Utrecht International Lute Festival. She has also premiered the works of John Zorn, Tan Dun, Randy Weston, and Philip Glass, and made an appearance on Björk’s album Volta.

Gary Shields is a pianist, award-winning composer, music educator, and arts administrator who has composed concert and commercial music for theatre and other media. He is also an instructor of piano and composition at Cornerstone Music Conservatory in West Los Angeles and works with the GRAMMY Foundation as a group supervisor for GRAMMY Camp. Originally from Atlanta, Gary received his BM from Vanderbilt University and his MM from USC.

Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative. Organized by Ron McCurdy (Music). Co-sponsored by the USC Black Alumni Association.

Event Type

Arts, Music, Student Life


Alumni, Faculty/Staff, Students


University Park Campus


music, employees


Admission is free. Reservations required.

Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative


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