Of Jasmine & Roses - bringing together the music of China and Scotland


Did you know that Pittsburgh once had a bustling Chinatown of its own? Established by waves of Chinese immigrants who headed East after the California gold rush, the neighborhood is centered around the intersection of Grant Street and Boulevard of the Allies downtown. Today, Pittsburgh’s Chinatown has all but disappeared save one remaining restaurant and a few historic buildings. Nonetheless, the important legacy of our Chinese immigrants carries on, and is enshrined in the University of Pittsburgh’s Chinese Nationality Room, which was dedicated in 1939 and still functions as a classroom.

Our performances of the national anthems include three pieces from Chinese Folk Songs, an ongoing series by Chinese composer Chen Yi that was originally written for Chanticleer. Born in 1953 in Guangzhou, Dr. Chen was the first Chinese woman to receive a Master of Arts in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and was later a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2006.


In line with our program’s global span, we have paired Dr. Chen’s work with Scottish composer James MacMillan’s luminescent So Deep for choir a cappella. Like Chen, MacMillan looks thoughtfully to his cultural heritage and sets the words of the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose work embodies the very essence of Scottish nationality to this day. Pittsburgh’s deep Scottish roots are widely apparent, whether by the skirl of the bagpipes floating off the campus of CMU, the broad legacy of Andrew Carnegie or in the Scottish Nationality Room, complete with a portrait of the great Robert Burns as its centerpiece!

Please help us celebrate these illuminating pieces and Pittsburgh’s cultural ties to what inspired them on Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3 in Heinz Chapel and the Charity Randall Theatre. Pitt's magnificent Nationality Rooms feature during our pre-concert guided tour, and single tickets are now on sale for our entire season so please book now. We look forward to seeing you there!


Sir James MacMillan on the rewards of being a compower

Chen Yi speaks with students about her background & composing


Mo li hua (“Jasmine Flower”) performed by Chanticleer and the Shanzen Lili Choir. This beautiful and popular folk song was used by Puccini in his final opera, Turandot!

So Deep, performed by Latvian choir Rīgas projektu koris


Learn more:

Chen Yi remembers the Cultural Revolution
a 2012 interview with WQXR