Xu Zhimo: king of King’s?


Were you asked to name the most famous 20th century alumnus of King’s College, Cambridge you might choose the economist John Maynard Keynes, the novelist EM Forster or the father of computing, Alan Turing.

You probably wouldn’t opt for Xu Zhimo. However, Xu arguably takes the prize, courtesy of the ‘China factor’ and the huge numbers that its population always entails.

The main reason for Xu’s fame as a King’s man is his 1928 poem Saying Farewell to Cambridge which is a compulsory text in Chinese literature courses and is learned by millions in the nation’s schools ever year, reports China Daily.

WiC first cited the poem back in issue 58 and now Xu’s alma mater is getting in on the act, with the help of its world-famous choir.

Late last month it released its newest album, which features a choral interpretation of Xu’s poem (as well as the Jasmine Flower Song, a Chinese classic). It is the first time in the choir’s 500-year history that it has recorded songs in Chinese. “The album represents the nearly 100-year bond that King’s College shares with China,” claims China Daily.

The music will be available to stream on Baidu and Netease and will be promoted widely across social media, the newspaper noted. (It’s on Apple Music too.)

The outcome of King’s College’s latest effort at cultural outreach will go beyond album revenues into more visits from Chinese tourists (and we’d guess more undergraduate applications too).

The college clearly sees further opportunities to play on the association: later this year it will hold a Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival and open a new Xu Zhimo Friendship Garden, marking the latest Cantab charm offensives aimed at China. (See this week’s Sinofile column for another link up between China and the English university city involving



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