Li Delun in Philadelphia
- Shelley Zhang
- Penn Libraries, School of Arts & Sciences
- 2021 Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Artists Support Grant
Doctoral candidate Shelley Zhang will produce a pop-up exhibit, symposium, and recital highlighting the underrecognized impact of the ‘father of western classical music in China,’ conductor Li Delun, and his work with the Philadelphia Orchestra during their 1973 China tour. From 1946 to 1949, Li was a Communist guerilla musician within the Communist Party of China during the Chinese Civil War. Following the establishment of the PRC, he served in various artistic leadership roles in Beijing. He worked tirelessly to promote Western classical music in China and protect it and musicians during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). In 1973, when the Philadelphia Orchestra visited Beijing and performed with the Central Philharmonic, he was instrumental to the trip’s
success. He passed away in 2001, after helping design the National Centre for the Performing Arts, one of the largest performing arts centers in East Asia.
There are currently dozens of photographs of Li Delun with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Penn’s Kislak Center for Special Collections. Currently misnamed as “Li Teh Lun” or “Li The
Lun,” he is unlocatable by scholarly search tools, as are many of his colleagues in the photographs who are not yet named. Working with staff in Kislak and the Li Delun Foundation,
Zhang will help correct the misspellings and identify more Chinese musicians in the archive. She will also curate a tripartite event in Kislak that will exhibit these photographs with an accompanying symposium and recital on April 23rd, 2022. To do so, she will collaborate with Kislak, the Department of Music, the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, the Wolf Humanities Center, the Center for Experimental Ethnography, the Li Delun Foundation, and local Philadelphia musicians.
- 2021 Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Artists Support
- Penn Libraries
- Responsive Opportunity
- School of Arts & Sciences