December 6, 2023 Coverage and Posts, CSA

The Globe: Visiting professor debuts original opera

Visiting professor debuts original opera

Content warning: racism and xenophobia


From racism and immigration difficulties to estrangement and misguidance, One-Log Bridge contains many situations that audience members can choose to connect to. A story of acceptance and belonging is at the core of the opera.


This opera follows the story of Yan, a first-generation immigrant trying to navigate her way through graduate school and the immigration process to find her sense of belonging. Yan is portrayed by Amanda Sun, a current musical theater student at Point Park, who shares some of the same struggles that Yan goes through in the performance.


One-Log Bridge is the creation of Yan Pang, a visiting assistant professor for Point Park University. Experiences that Pang had being raised in China and coming to America have been added to the show. A few alterations that Pang and Sun experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic are included as well. To add even more personality into the opera, Yan Pang’s father Jin Pang plays the erhu, a folk instrument that is traditionally heard in Chinese operas.

Amanda Sun (left) and Braden Stroppel (right) rehearsing Jason Noer’s choreography for the number “Paper Dance” for One-Log Bridge.

This is not your normal opera. One-Log Bridge was originally a play that was adapted into an opera with the help of David Walsh, director of Opera Theater at the University of Minnesota School of Music, where Pang had received her doctorate degree in music composition with a minor in theater arts and dance. Traditional Chinese opera and music are fused with 90s hip-hop music and dancing, choreographed by Jason Noer, simulating the shock factor of being in a new country and being thrown into a completely different culture. The 90s music and dance represents the American Pop culture the student is being introduced to in the piece.


Pang’s purpose was to share the Chinese-American immigration experience with the community. Sharing these stories allows for more understanding of one’s culture and one’s experiences, and Pittsburgh has always been an ideal place for artists to share their unique cultures with the rest of the community.


“At Point Park, I found the opportunity to work with musical theater students and immerse myself with all the amazing singers, actors and all of the human resources,” said Yan Pang when asked what attracted her to Pittsburgh.


The Pittsburgh arts community is rich with people who share the same passion as Pang to connect with each other and share their stories through creativity and artistic and musical expression.


Yan Pang and Amanda Sun both had inspirational and insightful advice for first-generation students who are undergoing the same hardships as the characters in One-Lodge Bridge. For someone who is struggling with displacement and loneliness, Pang wanted students to know that


“With the right people and the right community, they will find their sense of belonging because there will be people like them no matter how small that group is,” Sun, a student herself, said.


Sun also included the importance of a support system, especially whenever hardships get too overwhelming. Having the support of a found family or friend group provides the backbone for a difficult transition from a person’s native home to an entirely new way of living.


One-Log Bridge by Yan Pang is a part of the 2023-2024 Community Supported Art Performance Series at the New Hazlett Theater in the Northside. The opera will be performed on December 7 at 8 PM and December 8 at 10 AM and 8 PM.

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