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Yale Spizzwinks Make History in WAB Alumni’s Hometown Concert

April, 2016
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Yale University’s a capella group made history at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) recently, performing songs in Chinese for the first time in its 102-year history.

The unique Spizzwinks performance was part of their hometown concert series, in which the group travels to sing in each member’s hometown. This trip was extra special, as two of the ensemble’s 17 members graduated from WAB: Franklyn Zhu (WAB Class of 2012) and Dale Zhong (WAB Class of 2015).

“Having not just one, but two alumni as part of the group added even more to the event,” WAB’s High School Arts Director Mark Armstrong said. “For current students to see and hear the Spizzwinks and see two of their own as part of it is amazing.”

Before taking the stage in front of a 500-person audience that filled Founders’ Theatre to beyond capacity on the night, the group spent time working with Elementary School students and even sat down for an interview with the WABTV team.

“Yale is a lot like WAB, because they both offer the freedom to explore and pursue your passions. The only difference is that WAB is home,” Dale told the student reporters.

Dale and Franklyn are not strangers to the WAB musical experience. In fact, they were both leaders during their time here. Franklyn was a Tiger since entering the Early Years program at three years old. Mark Armstrong remembers first teaching Franklyn in Grade 1, and recalls even then that his energy and enthusiasm made him stand out from other musicians.

Dale spent five years as a student and musician at WAB. The day Dale became a leader among WAB’s musicians stands out clearly in Mark Armstrong’s mind as the day he led a Middle School and High School choir performance that eventually turned into his participation in WAB Idol, APAC Choir, Jazz Band, Rock in the Park and more.

At Yale, Franklyn will graduate with a degree in computer science and psychology. Dale entered Yale’s prestigious Directed Studies program. While academics are their main focus at school, their love for music has inspired them to stay dedicated and excel artistically as well.

“It is no surprise to any of us to see them now as part of an internationally acclaimed college student group,” Mark said.

The concert at WAB was part of a longer tour for performances and cultural exchange. The members of the group visited the Great Wall of China, enjoyed a banquet with Peking University’s Paca group and Northern Mongolian throat singers, and performed sold-out shows at Lakeview Hotel with Peking University a capella groups Pacappella, SEAbling and Sunday. They’re also performing at the Forbidden City.

“WAB is where I discovered music, which has allowed me to travel the world and sing for so many people,” Franklyn reflected in front of the audience. “It’s a beautiful thing. So thank you, WAB, for preparing me for this opportunity. It’s an honor to be back here with this group.”
Dale and Franklyn have become shining examples of WAB’s talented musical graduates. Students like these, says Mark Armstrong, have followed my simple the simple message I pass on to students before they graduate: “I simply say that I wish for them to keep on performing and enjoying music,” he said. “These two students have done just that.”


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