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A Violinist Lost His Seat and His Job. He Blames China.


A spokesman for Montclair State said that its artist-in-residence roles for the Shanghai Quartet were determined by membership in the group, and that, after learning Mr. Jiang was no longer part of the quartet, it had offered him a job as an adjunct instructor. Mr. Jiang said this is a step down from his previous role there, which included health insurance and other benefits.

The quartet was formed in 1983, by the brothers Weigang Li (violin) and Honggang Li (viola). Mr. Jiang joined in 1994 and Nicholas Tzavaras, the cellist, in 2000. They have released dozens of albums; among the most popular is “ChinaSong,” Mr. Jiang’s arrangements of Chinese folk music for strings.

Kenneth Fitzgerald, a lawyer for Mr. Jiang, said he viewed what happened to his client as being aligned with other efforts by the Chinese government to pressure artists and others to avoid statements that could be perceived as critical. He referred to Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, who walked back a tweet in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong after it caused a backlash among N.B.A. sponsors and officials in China. The message, Mr. Fitzgerald said, was clear: “If you choose to do business in China, you better not criticize the Chinese government, even if you do so in the United States as an American citizen.”

The Communist Party’s central propaganda department, which governs media and which is mentioned in Mr. Jiang’s lawsuit as an agent responsible for helping disseminate the false information about him, did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement, Ambassador Huang Ping, the Consul General in New York — who was photographed with the Li brothers at a Shanghai Quartet concert at Carnegie Hall in early March — said that his office “always supports cultural exchange activities and encourages Chinese arts groups to promote friendship between the two peoples through cultural performances. We don’t involve in any internal affairs of cultural troupes.”

Mr. Jiang said in interviews that he had a growing conflict with the Li brothers, who are also American citizens, over their position on the Chinese government, which he characterized as supportive. The Li brothers denied there had been conflicts and said their “relationship has been as close, musician colleagues.”

“We are very proud of the Shanghai Quartet’s bicultural heritage and legacy,” the group added in its statement. “Bridging cultures is of the utmost importance to us and integral to our music-making.”

Apsny News

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