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Hwa Nan Shall Be Proud of Shuyue

By Chen Zhongying
Shuyue, Yang (Shuyue) is a graduate of Class 1951 from Education Department of Hwa Nan College (1908-1951). She is short and petite but lively and lovely. She started singing at school in her hometown Zhangzhou though she had no idea what the vocal music is. 
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After coming to the college in September, 1946, she often sang out loud at the dorm. Her sound flowed out of the dorm windows to the faculty living in the two ends of student dormitory close to the balconies.
College music teachers Ms. Chen Yide (Chinese), Mr. Faurot and Ms. Ferton(Americans) invited her to the piano room and taught her vocal techniques and theory. Her diligence and intelligence surprised her teachers and very soon a rapid progress was made. By Spring 1949, she had already been ready for the leading role in the college’s annual music week.

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Shuyue (right, first row) and her families

The mission of Hwa Nan College is to train women leadership with personal integrity. High attention is paid to moral, intellectual, physical, aesthetic development, especially music. Music Week is held in May every year. Student and faculty with music talents were opted to perform on the stage. Abundant historical photos of music events were left in the college archive. Music Week featured one theme every night such as piano solo by Mr. Faurot, female solo by Ms. Ferton, cello by a Jewish couple, or student chorus. Students scheduled half an hour after lunch for rehearsal, hence never conflicting with their study plan.

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Shuyue (left, first row) and her classmates

A big concert held during the Music Week invited philharmonics from local church schools and academics, which certainly led the way in promoting anesthetic and music education. Learning and growing in such an environment and atmosphere, Shuyue, Yang gradually became a famous college singer. Her lyric soprano of Italian opera Madame Butterfly with those beautiful words of “Un bel dì, vedremo, Levarsi un fil di fumo, Sull'estremo confin del mare “deeply impressed us and is unforgettable till today.
    In 1951, after graduation, she went to Singapore with her husband Dr. Chen Zhide and became a music teacher. She finished her Master Degree at Buffalo University, Singapore and later pursued her doctorial degree of Music at New York University. Her music talents were greatly expanded by participating local music events. Her performance and photos were published in the newspapers of Singapore World Herald, on Dec. 2, 1956 and the Daily Times, Mamaroneck on March 21, 1958. Beautiful Madame Butterfly was coming alive.

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Newspaper report about Shuyue

Seasons rotate and time shifts. Six decades after, in May,2016, a letter from an attorney of a US Foundation was mailed to Fujian Hwa Nan Women’s College (1984-). The college is informed 2.3 million RMB was donated by Shu Yue, Yang and her husband in their will as an endowment for college construction. Not until then, we got to know that Shuyue, Yang and her husband had passed away. Yuying, Su, Alumna living in Canada originally from Shuyue’s hometown Zhangzhou told us Shuyue passed away at home after attending church service and singing Christmas carols at Christmas Eve. We believe she was carried away by her music and would never wake up again.

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Graduation Photo of Shuyue

Later, Mr. Chen Ran, nephew of Ms Shuyue Yang gave Shuyue’s performance posters and other information materials to the college. These documents unveiled to us Shuyue on various occasions when receiving many honors and awards would always say she didn’t know about vocal music and it was Hwa Nan College who nurtured her, for which she owed great gratitude to alma mater. From Shuyue Yang’s growth experience, I realized that women’s college is a fertile soil to cultivate women talents, in which faculty like family members take good care of students and students like siblings care for each other and applaud for each other’s achievement. I still remember the night of Shuyue Yang’s Concert. That night, students finished their dinner early and dressed up to attend this grand celebration. They volunteered to collect tickets at the gate, to pull the screen on the stage, to be receptionists, to lead the way for the guests to be seated. Nobody was free of work.

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Hwa Nan College

For many times, I have heard from elder alumna that they are proud of Hwa Nan and Hwa Nan takes pride in them. They are grateful to their alma mater and they are also proud of themselves because they add to the glory of Hwa Nan.
      Shuyue, Yang is truly proud of Hwa Nan and Hwa Nan surely takes pride in her. Hwa Nan and Shuyue honor each other and complement each other. Like Shuyue, Yang, there are quite a few outstanding alumna out there.
      Alumna provide solid backing for today’s achievement of Hwa Nan. College President Lucy Wang said long time ago not large buildings but alumna represent Hwa Nan. Whoever graduated from old or new Hwa Nan, from or not from Hwa Nan, after working in Hwa Nan for a while, they all feel the harmony and the love of this big family as well as the passion for work in this place. They are all proud of becoming one of Hwa Nan alumna. They are the spiritual pillars of Hwa Nan. Recently Hwa Nan Alumni Association is compiling a directory of outstanding alumna. The list of names continues. Everyone in the list is excellent and has her own strong points for us to learn. Elder alumna such as Shuyue, Yang and Benmao, Sa are amazing, but I believe in the future newcomers will surpass their predecessors with ever greater achievement.