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Gu-Zheng Ensemble concert provides park goers a unique musical experience

June 09, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Alice Kan placed a pick in each of the 3-year-old’s small hands and then covered the girl’s hands with her own as she showed the youngster how to play a gu zheng.

After Daphne received the impromptu lesson, following Sunday’s Arts in the Park concert by the Alice Gu-Zheng Ensemble, she wasn’t up for an interview.

But her enthusiasm came through as she tried first one gu zheng and then another on the band shell stage in Hagerstown’s City Park.

The Sunday afternoon concert, and the yoga class that followed, are part of the summer Arts in the Park series being produced by Historic City Park Neighborhoods 1st and the City of Hagerstown.

“She was very entertained” by the concert, said Daphne’s father, Hagerstown resident Justin Evans.

During the concert, Kan’s husband, Kent, held a microphone for her while she explained and demonstrated how to play the gu zheng. Her husband occasionally joined her, playing a drum or wood blocks.

Kan’s gu zhengs were stylish wooden rectangular-shaped boxes with 21 strings each. The strings are held up by a diagonal line of bridges across the top of the wooden base.

The Virginia resident strummed and picked the strings as she performed mostly what sounded like traditional Chinese music.

Emily Conrad, 26, of Hagerstown, said Kan also performed “America the Beautiful.”

Conrad and her friend, Ian Donnakay, 30, of Greencastle, Pa., went to the park specifically to hear the gu zheng concert.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Donnakay said.

The gu zheng concert was something Tim Sharp said he wouldn’t normally expect to see at the park.

Sharp, of Hagerstown, said the music sounded “pretty good,” while his wife, Michelle, said she loved it.

The couple went to the park with their sons, Leo, 4, and Sebastian, 6.

Michelle Sharp said she thinks the boys enjoyed the music, at least the first 10 minutes, before their attention shifted.

Joe Suddueth of Hagerstown and his granddaughter, Clara, 3, were playing at a park playground when they heard the music and came over to watch for a bit.

“I like it. It’s nice. It’s different,” said Suddueth, 49.

Boonsboro resident Stanley Thawley said he was walking by the band shell when he remembered the concert was planned. He stood in the shade of a tree to listen.

Thawley said he enjoyed the concert and was glad so many people turned out to hear it.

About 32 people sat on benches, were standing or relaxing in the grass around the band shell area.

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