A number of Jesuits worked for the Imperial court in Beijing during the Qing dynasty - as painters, translators, astronomers and even musicians. A team of Jesuits worked on projects as diverse as mapping the whole of the Qing empire and designing western-style palaces for the emperor's summer palace on the outskirts of Beijing.
The Jesuits working in the imperial court also annotated some melody lines that they had heard there and these were included in a work published by a French based Jesuit, Jean-Baptiste Du Halde (1674-1743) - Description de la Chine et de ae Tartarie Chinoise (a translated version of which is on display in the exhibit and which has been digitized and is available on this website).
Quando il Fiume Giallo si acchiararà (Frammenti ricciani) (2011)
Translated: "When the Yellow River clears (Ricci Fragments)"
The chief curator of this exhibit, Fr Jeremy Clarke S.J., was prompted by this act of creativity and historical scholarship by these earlier Jesuits to commission Assistant Professor Ralf Yusuf Gawlick (of the Boston College Music Department) to compose a new piece of music on the occasion of this book exhibition.
The subsequent piece of work draws from the writings of Matteo Ricci and his first translator and editor Nicolas Trigault, S.J. (1577-1628). A recording of this will be playing throughout the course of the exhibition.
The piece is called Quando il Fiume Giallo si acchiararà (Frammenti ricciani) and was made possible by generous funding from the Jesuit Institute, the Institute for the Liberal Arts and the Office of University Mission and Ministry, Boston College.
There will be a public performance of this piece, with an introductory commentary, on April 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm in St. Mary's Chapel, Boston College. Admission will be free. Performed by Daniela Tosic (alto), Gabriela Diaz (violin) and Rafael Popper-Keizer (violoncello).
The performers on the following recording are Daniela Tosic (alto), Blanka Bednarz (violin) and Rafael Popper-Keizer (violoncello).