MURFREESBORO, TN — Leap gracefully into the Year of the Rabbit at Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a Lunar New Year musical celebration featuring visiting scholar Lyujing Liu and musicians from the university’s Center for Chinese Music and Culture and School of Music.  

The free concert, “Spring Dulcimer: Virtuosity Meets Romance,” is set to begin at 8 p.m. Central Jan. 28 in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building at 1439 Faulkinberry Drive. It will also air live on the School of Music’s YouTube channel at 

Liu will perform traditional and contemporary works for the yangqin — the Chinese hammered dulcimer — and will be joined by MTSU music faculty Andrea Dawson and Mei Han and Belmont University pianist Alessandra Volpi. 

Liu, an award-winning instructor who’s teaching the yangqin at MTSU during her stay, earned her master’s degree in yangqin performance from Xiamen University, teaches at Hangzhou Normal University and runs her own studio. She has played for national and world leaders and is a member of the Cimbalom World Association and the Yangqin Professional Committee of the Chinese National Orchestra Society. 

A preview of her work is available on video at, in which Liu performs with MTSU junior biochemistry major Amy Brown, a fellow member of the center’s Chinese Music Ensemble. 

Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year, is the most important holiday in several East Asian countries, marking the start of the 28-day Chinese lunar calendar in mid-January to mid-February with public celebrations and family reunions. Lunar New Year 2023 began Jan. 22, marking the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac. 

According to legend, 12 animals were invited to a party given by the Jade Emperor to determine the order of the zodiac signs. The rabbit was the fourth to arrive, using its quick thinking to safely meet a river-crossing requirement by using a raft instead of trying to swim. 

The rabbit is considered a sign of longevity, peace, prosperity and empathy in Chinese culture, and experts are predicting a year of hope and introspection for this Year of the Rabbit. 

Han, who is director of the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture as well as a faculty member in the School of Music, is an ethnomusicologist specializing in Chinese music and an internationally acclaimed concert artist on the zheng, or Chinese long zither. 

Dawson, a professor of violin and viola at MTSU, teaches courses in those instruments as well as in string chamber music, string pedagogy and string literature and conducts the MTSU Chamber Orchestra. 

Volpi, the resident staff pianist/coach at Belmont and pianist for that university’s opera program, is an international award-winning musician who also performs with the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Concerto Orchestra, Nashville Ballet, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Lexington Philharmonic.  

The MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture is the only center of its kind in North America. The CCMC’s mission is to engage regional, national and global communities about rich and diverse musical and cultural traditions from China. 

The center, which opened in 2016 in MTSU’s Miller Education Center on Bell Street east of campus, includes a gallery of Chinese musical instruments, a library and archives, and two classrooms. For more information on the center and its activities, visit