Willamette University presents Emmy-Nominated musician and storyteller John Doan with his acclaimed “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” program. Imagine stepping into a time machine with Dr. Who to experience the world when people actually entertained themselves and each other. That is what it may feel like entering the performance site that has been transformed into a period parlor. The immersion experience is heightened by group sing-alongs and whistle-alongs, archival photographs, and by hearing the very sounds of a century ago on period instruments common then (harp guitar, classical banjo, various zithers) but rarely if ever heard today. Emmy nominated for “Best Entertainment Special of the Year” John’s physical comedy interspersed with fine musicianship makes for a fun filled evening for all ages.
This year, Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit is on tour throughout the Pacific Northwest, bringing fun, laughter, stories, and beautiful music from across the centuries into our concert living room. It is a beautiful celebration of fun, family, laughter, and music, and you are invited to join us in this annual tradition.
For over 25 years, Emmy Nominee John Doan has been bringing the magic of Christmas explored through stories, songs, and musical instruments from today’s modern digital to the ancient past where the music we made was our entertainment.
We are especially excited about the Christmas tour this year as it includes the lovely Egyptian Theatre which was built in 1925 and retains all the original thematic detail throughout the building. The Holiday time travel will thus not only be on stage but in the charm of this newly renovated theatre. You will not be able to resist the nostalgia and warmed of an old fashioned Christmas.
Imagine stepping into a time machine with Dr. Who to experience the world when people actually entertained themselves and each other. That is what it may feel like entering the performance site that has been transformed into a period parlor. The immersion experience is heightened by group sing-alongs and whistle-alongs, archival photographs, and by hearing the very sounds of a century ago on period instruments common then (harp guitar, classical banjo, various zithers) but rarely if ever heard today. Emmy nominated for “Best Entertainment Special of the Year” John’s physical comedy interspersed with fine musicianship makes for a fun filled evening for all ages. Continue reading
The debut concert was held at the Qujiang Theatre in the heart of Xi’an. It is a beautiful and intimate facility that soon filled with local people and those who attended at the invitation of my wonderful host Hongquan Wang and the Shaanxi Musicians Association.
I had written out my program and text that I would normally say in English so that it could be read in Chinese (as my Mandarin is currently limited to about 3 words). Yilin Wang excellently interpreted my text before each song (at least it sounded very authoritative). I am so use to speaking myself to audiences so as to provide them a bridge to my music so by not being able to speak I initially felt mute and somewhat awkward.
Everything changed once I hit the first note. I instantly realized that I actually was speaking to the audience directly by playing my music on the harp guitar. Even the notes sounded a bit Chinese as there was no more distance between us. They burst to applause after each piece. Some recording engineers in a sound room were talking to each other and didn’t know that they had a microphone on so my music drifted over some speech in the hall. Some people in the audience began to shout out to have them be quiet. I said “Shay Shay (Thank you”). Once they stopped talking I gave the audience a thumbs up and said “how” (good). “Hung how” (very good) and the audience erupted in applauds.
The host wanted to have a question and answer session just before starting the second half and many people called out. One man shouted, “Where do we get your recordings?” Another asked in Mandarin, “How is the harp guitar different than the guitar?” and so on.
After the concert the audience rushed the stage and wanted to have photos with me. Everyone waited for me to greet an important man in the arts community. Then it was another half hour of little children, teens, middle aged to elderly people coming up and posing with me the “Rock Star!”
I made many fans that evening but beyond all that I felt an implied “East meets West” turned into an evening among friends.
The following is a report from the road as John Doan begins his 2014 concert tour of China.
When leaving the Seattle airport to China the concert tour began to seem so real and no longer an idea. The line for the plane was filled with Chinese people speaking to each other in Mandarin. The silence surrounding my host family Hougquan, Li, Yilin and Guo Guo was lifting as we were beginning to enter their world.
The plane was literally shoulder-to-shoulder with people except for first class that was sparsely occupied. People had money enough for air travel but these are a practical people use to long lines and enduring inconvenience. During the flight Chinese faces were aglow from individual screens watching a marathon of movies both in Chinese and Hollywood ones with English subtitles.
After each movie I checked the flight map to see our route up north into the arctic arcing over Alaska and Siberia and down across frigid expanses of barren snow covered mountains and remote ice covered lakes and waterways. This impassible region still defined the old barriers of place and people prohibiting any to pass through on ground or boat especially this time of year yet we leisurely passed above it all at 40,000 ft. and at -70 below freezing!
We landed in Beijing at a modern airport amongst the glow of lite streets, freeways and buildings as far as the eye could see through the man made fog that clung to the ground. Deplaning onto the tarmac we were confronted by the reality of the December cold causing all to bundle up as we walked fifty yards to an incredibly long and wide bus that transported us to another terminal in the airport.
美国音乐大师空降西安 将演奏20弦“神器”吉他 – 新闻频道 – 西部网（陕西新闻网）WWW.CNWEST.COM and 美国古典吉他大师约翰.多恩莅临西安 – 娱乐新闻 – 三秦网-权威主流媒体 陕西首选门户 – feature John and his harp guitar in interviews done as they arrived at the airport in China.
Here are translated and edited excerpts:
You may be familiar to the six string guitar, but have you seen a 20 string guitar? Called an “artifact” [historical instrument], the 20-string guitar is known as a harp guitar. It has almost the same range as a piano, but with only one person playing. Shaanxi Province musicians and fans are invited to a special recital by John Doan, harp guitar pioneer, international concert artist, and composer.
Reporters met up with John at the airport. He was very approachable, always smiling, saying thank you, a real gentleman who nominated for the US television industry’s highest award, an Emmy. The Washington Post says, “his playing is an exquisite union of the ancient and the contemporary, the austere and the sensual.”
John told reporters he came to China 24 years ago as a cultural ambassador and created a lot of music but felt his work was not complete. This time he hopes to find new inspiration, pieces of music turned into real movements. he has come to the ancient city to list to some wonderful music, too…he heard “Xi’an is the world’s most friendly people.”
The Musicians Association of Shaanxi Province will feature John Doan in concert on December 31, 2013 and January 5, 2014, in Xi’an Qujiang Concert Hall (VIP) in a special solo recital. On January 7 he will present academic lectures in Shaanxi Music and Arts School, and participating in organized exchanges in Xi’an University of Arts and Matilda House January 8, 2014. On January 10, 2014, John Doan and the founder of Shaanxi Ge “Thirteen Wolf” will be in Yisu theater performances side by side.
Via Google Translate
From the archives…
In this national television interview by Shannon Woodland with John Doan about the Victorian Christmas show, now called “Christmas Unplugged.”
Celebrating its 27th year, this annual tradition is a musical journey back through time, much like Doctor Who, to a time when we made our own entertainment through stories and song.
In old times, people would have zithers, guitars, or banjos, making their own music…anyone in the household could play these.
I’ve found so many instruments, so many artifacts from this time past that have a certain charm to them. They all tell a story about who we were.
…music is a great equalizer. It is something beyond words. It is non-verbal and parodies our emotions…
The annual John Doan Christmas Show, “Christmas Unplugged: Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” is on tour throughout the Oregon State area now.
I’ve been taking you on a journal tour of European Tour 2013. So far we’ve revisited our arrival and adventures in Paris, played with fast cars and harp guitars in Le Mans, and exploring more of the french countryside with castles, toys, and of course more harp guitars. After having our fun in France entertaining all with story and song, we moved on to Florence, Italy. The next part of this journal tour of Europe revisits Pisa, Italy, for more concerts, great food, and harp guitars – oh, and a once leaning tower.
After performing in Florence I took a train to Pisa. It is the local custom to not look at each other on the train.
International guitarist and rising star Andrea Valeri invited me to come and record with him on his latest CD project (he is very proud of the monument that was erected as a tribute to his first initial).
I’ve been taking you on a journal tour of European Tour 2013. So far we’ve revisited our arrival and adventures in Paris, played with fast cars and harp guitars in Le Mans, and exploring more of the french countryside with castles, toys, and of course more harp guitars. After having our fun in France entertaining all with story and song, we moved on to impress and be impressed with Italy.
Once in Venice we took a Ferrari looking high speed train to Florence. The city is simply eye popping and a photographer’s paradise.
So far in this journal of my European Tour 2013, we’ve revisited our adventures in Paris and played with fast cars and harp guitars in Le Mans. Now we’re visiting an ancient castle, toy museum, and more playing with harp guitars.
The next leg of the tour brought me to the northeast of France into the Alsace region on the border or Germany and Switzerland. This is a lush green expanse of mountains and rivers littered with scores of small rustic villages. It is here where Yaouen lives with his family in the shadow of ancient castles and winding rivers.
After Paris we drove to Le Mans, a city known for car racing, ancient buildings and doors, obscure building regulations, and now for hosting the first International Festival for the Harp Guitar.
I was honored to be among such great international players.