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International Teaching & Performing


U.S. Soprano Enlightening Lectures
from the China Daily, by Wan Fang
Thursday, March 30, 2000

Margie V. Marrs, a famous soprano from the United States, enlightened a Chinese audience in the Concert Hall of Shenyang Conservatory of Music.

On March 22, 2000, Margie V. Marrs, a famous soprano from the United States, enlightened a Chinese audience in the Concert Hall of Shenyang Conservatory of Music.

The event was sponsored by the conservatory's vocal music department.
As a professor of music and dean of the Music Department of Coe College in Iowa, United States, Marrs touched the audience with her elegant voice so deeply they routed for more. Marrs delightfully responded to three curtain calls.

A graduate of Washington State University with a Master's Degree, Marrs has continued to study music. She has had private vocal music lessons with famous vocalists such as Thomas Houser, Barbara Aurora, Frances Bible, Dorothy Barnes, and Lloyd Linder.

Showing her energetic spirit on stage, Marrs has staged an average of 50 or more public vocal performances per year since she began her teaching career in 1978. In addition, she often appears as a piano accompanist for other singers and soprano soloist in programmes.

This was the second time Marrs has performed in China. In 1994, she performed in Beijing and Hong Kong.

From March 19-24, Marrs, as a teacher with more than 30 years' experience has given about 20 hours of lecture on vocal music to students in Shenyang Conservatory of Music.

Her lectures tap into the brains and lift the hearts of many Chinese students.

Her conscientious working style and unique teaching methods have received applause. Marrs often incorporates humour in her lectures which has earned acclaim from both faculty and students.

Xu Zhaoren, director of the vocal department at Shenyang Conservatory of Music, praised her lectures for clear thinking.

Zhang Bo, a third-year music student, said Marrs' lectures have impressed him a lot.

"Unlike Chinese music professors who focus more on the minuteness of the voice, she emphasizes singing as a whole and pays more attention to its overall sense," said Zhang.

Zhang said she did a good job in combining education with recreation.
During her March 22 performance, Marrs could barely withhold her excitement when she talked about her students in Shenyang.

"I work with 20 some students and they all have wonderful voices," she said. "Besides they have been very responsive in trying things I asked them to do. It's gratifying to a teacher when the students let themselves try the things you ask them to do," she said.

While people used to think Chinese students generally don't open up to people, Marrs said that she did not find that is true. Marrs did say however, that some of the things she wanted them to try in class were different than what they were accustomed to.

"To me the students have not really been shy," she said. "They are really interested in learning new things."

The Shenyang Conservatory of Music is the only music institution of higher learning in Northeast China. The vocal music department, as the organizer of the recital and lectures, has won numerous medals in national and international competitions during the past years.

According to Xu Zhaoren, academic exchanges of the vocal music department with Italy, the United States and other countries have increased during the past decade.

Chinese students often feel it difficult to learn arias and opera because of language barriers.

"Through the academic communication with artists from other countries, we offset our cultural disadvantages," Xu said.

"Besides, we draw new views and new thinking about vocal music into ourselves and become familiar with the newest development of the art. It has brought us more success in international competitions," he said.

Marrs said she thinks highly of the academic communication. "It's really good. It's a wonderful opportunity for me. I must try to be very clear and clarify my own ideas because I have to teach and work through a translator," she said.
Marrs hopes to invite more visitors to Coe's campus. "We would be delighted to have students or faculty visit our campus and spend time there," Marrs said.