Each year Kunqu Society invites prominent kunqu artists to New York to join its public programs. Their participation and presence in performances, lecture-demonstrations, and workshop lessons greatly enhance the society’s programs and help deepen the society’s mission in introducing, studying, and promoting kunqu.
A famed kunqu master artist and top-ranked performer nationally in China, Mr. Cai graduated from the Shanghai Municipal Drama School in 1961 and specialized in the young male role type, especially roles of state officials. He received instruction under kunqu masters Zhenfei Yu, Chuanzhi Shen, Chuanying Zhou, and others, and was known for his sonorous and clear voice and portrayal of characters with heartfelt emotions. The signature pieces of Mr. Cai include Sounding the Bell in Distress, Startled by Rebellions, Mother’s Visit, and Traces in the Snow. In plays such as The Palace of Eternal Youth, The Story of the Lute, and The Peony Pavilion, Mr. Cai took the lead role and created vivid and diverse male characters including emperor, impoverished scholar, and martial general. He has garnered many prestigious awards, including the Plum Blossom Award, the highest recognition of a performer’s achievement in China. He has performed and lectured in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, the U.S., Germany, and Singapore, and was well-received by the audience.
A top-ranked performer nationally in China, Mr. Huang graduated from the Jiangsu Theatre School in 1967, with specialization in the old male role type. He was a student of kunqu masters Chuanduo Bao, Chuanyue Ni, Chuanying Zhou, and others, and could perform a broad selection of male characters. With his penetrating singing, crisp articulation, and a natural performance style, Mr. Huang is deft at integrating conventional performing skills with unique portrayals of the characters to create a myriad of distinct personalities on stage. The most well-known examples include Wang Yun in The Sword, Su Wu in On the Home-gazing Lookout, and Kuang Zhong in Fifteen Strings of Cash. Mr. Huang has visited Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan for performance and teaching. He is a winner of the Plum Blossom Award, the highest recognition of a performer’s achievement in China.
Advisor of the kunqu art for the Jiangsu Performing Arts Group and top-ranked performer nationally in China, Ms. Kong graduated from the Jiangsu Drama School in 1985 and specialized in the role type of guimendan (refined young maiden), taking instruction from renowned kunqu artists Xian Zhang, Jiqing Zhang, and Xunpeng Zhang. In 2007 she graduated from the graduate program for outstanding younger performers, the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Art. She is known for her performance in The Palace of Eternal Youth, The Jade Pin, Princess Florets, and others. Ms. Kong has won many prestigious awards, including: the Plum Blossom Award for artistic excellence, the Orchid Award for best performance, and Excellence in Promoting the Kunqu Art given by UNESCO and Ministry of Culture. She has performed in England, France, Germany, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
A top-ranked performer nationally in China, Ms. Wang graduated from the Jiangsu Theatre School in 1967. She was a student of Hengzhi Song and Chuanqu Wang and specializes in the mature and old female role types. Ms. Wang is known for her luminous singing, clear articulation, and truthful portrayal of character in performance. The characters brought to life by Ms. Wang include Nanny Liu in Advice on Banqueting, Madame Cui in Interrogating Hongniang, Flower Lady in Flower Lady, and Madame Wang in Mother’s Visit. Ms. Wang has visited Germany, Italy, France, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Finland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan for performance and teaching.