Music student places third in singing contest with Mongolian folk song

Mon, Dec 4, 2017

Music comes naturally to James Gonzalez, but learning to sing in Mandarin took a little more practice.

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A music student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), Gonzalez won third prize at the 2017 B.C. University Students "Chinese Bridge" Mandarin Singing Contest earlier this month for his rendition of a Mongolian folk song.

Gonzalez is studying voice in KPU’s music program, and is currently taking a first-year Mandarin course in the language and cultures department at KPU.

“I never expected to be a part of a singing contest when I signed up for the course,” said Gonzalez. “I chose to take Mandarin because I enjoy learning foreign languages and I wanted to challenge the status quo of Mandarin being a difficult language to learn.”

His Mandarin instructor, Dr. Yanfeng Qu, transcribed the characters of a Mongolian song to pinyin — the romanization of Chinese characters so that Gonzalez could read and memorize the lyrics.

“I’m extremely proud of James’ achievement,” said Qu. “I have been teaching at KPU for over 20 years, and nothing makes my career more rewarding and fulfilling than seeing my students succeed.”

Gonzalez competed against 100 participants singing “The beautiful grassland, my hometown” in traditional Mongolian clothing and was awarded $100 for placing third.

Open to post-secondary students who are non-native Chinese speakers, the Chinese Bridge contest aims to stimulate enthusiasm for Chinese learning and to enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture.

KPU acupuncture student Andrew Yang won second prize in the singing contest in 2016.

By Tatiana Tomljanovic