Experienced Amateur Practitioners
The founding of Kunqu Society was made possible by a group of experienced amateur practitioners who appreciated kunu and deemed it important to establish an organization in order to study, preserve, and promote the art form. They participate in the society’s programs not only as performers on stage, but also as administrators behind the scene and devoted kunqu supporters in the audience.
A graduate of National Taiwan Normal University with a M.A. in Chinese classical literature specialized in yuanqu and kunqu, Ms. Wu had been a Chinese language teacher for over 40 years, and from 1981 to 2002 she served as Head-Teacher of the Chinese Language Program at the United Nations. Besides teaching Chinese language, Ms. Wu is devoted to the studying, preserving and promoting kunqu in the United States. She has written extensively on classical Chinese theatre, and is the editor of the book, The Arts of the Chinese Classical Theater. Ms. Wu is also a performer of the young refined female role type. She has been the President of the Kunqu Society since 1997.
Founding President of the Society (1988-1996), ethnomusicologist (Wesleyan University, Ph.D., 1976), and a Woodrow Wilson National Fellow (1971-1972), Mr. Chen is the architect and leader in establishing the Society as a leading kunqu cultural-arts organization, serving the patrons and communities of the arts in the New York, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He was the producer of many of the Society’s major public programs, such as The Beauty of the Kunqu Opera (1994), Lady Glory’s Trek to the North (1994), Spring-Grass (1997), and Pan Chin-lien (1999).
From a prominent family, Mrs. Frankel is the “little fourth sister” in the book Four Sisters of Hofei written by Annping Chin, history professor at Yale University. Mrs. Frankel began her study and performance of kunqu in 1931 with kunqu masters Chuanzhi Shen and Chuanfang Zhang and renowned practitioners Yongmo Lu and Nanjing Wu. During the anti-Japan war period, Mrs. Frankel participated in charity performances held at cultural institutions in cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing. In 1949 Mrs. Frankel relocated to the U.S. With the support of her husband, the late Hans H. Frankel, a well-known Chinese literature scholar, they held lectures and demonstrations in more than twenty educational and cultural institutions in the U.S. and Canada to introduce and promote the kunqu art. Beginning in 1962 Mrs. Frankel was appointed to teach Chinese calligraphy at the Yale School of Art and advise students of the arts and sciences on their theses about Chinese poetry and theatre. She also offered lessons at home on kunqu singing and performance and Chinese flute. In eighty two years, no matter where she is, even during travel, Mrs. Frankel continues to practice kunqu and calligraphy that bring her much joy. She is the most famed kunqu practitioner and calligrapher in the Chinese world.
A graduate from National Taiwan Chung-hsing University majoring in classical Chinese literature, Ms. Yeh is a talented kunqu performer of female roles. She is also an experienced jingju performer. She was Treasurer of the Society and has assisted with costumes backstage in many of the Society’s productions.