In a city not exactly synonymous with the word “culture,” it’s refreshing to find the ever-so-rare odd subculture existing, nay, possibly even thriving.
Since the 1930s, companies like Hero and the Shanghai General Harmonica factory have been profitably churning out a product that draws little attention but fervent followers in Shanghai even today: the harmonica. Those factories are still producing for both import and export, while several websites have been set up to bring Chinese harmonica fans together, instrument stores like SUS2 (aka Gua’er) are offering blues harmonica classes, and Fudan University is hosting a harmonica culture week.
Harmonica culture week?! Yes, this week a group of students at Fudan University cooperated with China Harp Net to bring “Harmonica Culture Week” to their campus. The Culture Week consisted of series of performances broadcast across the campus PA system, a seminar meant to promote and popularize harmonica culture (with prizes!), and live performances by amateur and professional harmonica enthusiasts. The event winds down tomorrow with a free concert by visiting Japanese harpist Juko Saito, who has been playing the harmonica since the 1950s and has published many books and edited Japan’s Harmonica Magazine. He plays tomorrow Wednesday at 7pm in Fudan’s Xianghui Auditorium.