Virtual Archive of Cultural Memories: Slow Boat to China: Harbin to Shanghai

First in Tatiana Pentes, doctoral thesis, BlackBox: Painting a Digital Picture of Documented Memory, UTS, VDM Verlag, Germany 2009.

Serge Ermoll  Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, the Cathay Hotel, Shanghai, China,1930
Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, the Cathay Hotel, Shanghai, China,1930

…Sometimes you suffocate when you think of the past; a life that never was, flashing up in sepia. Memory which is creamy-yellow, cracked; composed of proto-gallic acid, proto-sulphate of iron, potassium cyanide. Let’s not get too technical. Not right now. It makes for too much exposure. Still in the dark, you remember Shanghai…Like this story. Like the way everything in history is always wrapped in a tissue; of words, of memories, of lies. Dancing. Now that’s another matter. You have to have infinite patience with that. Time and timing. Grace and desire. Swaying back and forth like the tide until something is washed up; something always washed up. Shanghai-dancing…To cast a line from an old spool: it is the attainment of disorientation and instability…It is hard to track my father down. He stayed at this hotel once…the Cathay on the Bund.”

Brian Castro, Shanghai Dancing, 2003 [1(a)]
The majestic British Iraqui Jew – Sir Victor Sasson’s Cathay Hotel Shanghai 1936, image quoted in http://www.nickgrantadventures.com/Shanghai_Cathy_Hotel_Bund.htm [1(b)]

1. My Story
My project is an autobiographical and inter-disciplinary one. In it I draw on personal, spiritual, philosophical, historical, and cultural resonances to question the uniqueness of the art object in the production of a creative digital program. The pursuit of knowing and recording oneself can never be a transparent act. It projects an illusory sense of self-mastery because it is political and subjective, an articulation of one’s culture, mythologies, imaginaries.[1]

Launch BOX artwork [Launch BlackBoxv3 online]

Black Box: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory (2006)
Чужие города Strange Cities a portrait of Xenia Vladimirovna (Ermolaeff) by Josepho Schick 1930s

Чужие города Strange Cities a portrait of Xenia Vladimirovna (Ermolaeff) by Josepho Schick 1930s [2]

The objective of this creative research is to extend and complicate my earlier experiments with the music of the Russian diasporic people in China, through the production of an interactive non-linear multimedia work Чужие города Strange Cities. [3] This work is part of my on-going investigation into ‘the song’ as a mode of cultural expression, political persuasion, and propaganda, particularly in ethnic minorities.

“…the new book demands the new writer. Ink-stand and goose-quill are dead…The printed sheet transcends space and time. The printed sheet, the infinity of the book, must be transcended…”

El Lissittzky, The Book: The Electro-Library, Topology of Typography, 1923 [5]
El Lissittzky, The Book: The Electro-Library, Topology of Typography, 1923, in Constructivist Mayakovsky’s For The Voice, Soviet Russian poetry to be spoken

El Lissittzky, The Book: The Electro-Library, Topology of Typography, 1923, in Constructivist Mayakovsky’s For The Voice, Soviet Russian poetry to be spoken [6]

My slow boat to China began with chance discoveries, serendipity, and curiosities which found their way into my writing and the production, methodology and theoretical concerns involved in creating an interactive digital media work and articulating the negotiations involved in representation of ethnicity, gender and identity. This project of image making has another ideological agenda: to interrogate the “… colonial constructions of racial, cultural, and geographic difference…(examined) … through the channels of photographic production and consumption.” [7] The parallel discourse weaving its thread through this creative work and writing is to make visible the construction of identity as a fragile relationship between observers and observed. The colonising/ dominant gaze conceives of the marginalised ethnicity of the subject as both racial inferior and object of fascination.[8] In the famous words of Jean-Paul Sartre:

“The picturesque has its origins in war and a refusal to understand the enemy: our enlightenment about Asia actually came to us first from irritated missionaries and from soldiers. Later came travellers – traders and tourists – who are soldiers that have cooled off… especially the hierarchical categorization of human specimens, to the popular commercial formats of collection and display: cartes-de-visite, tourist postcards, photograph albums, photographically illustrated books, and magazine advertisements… the symbolic and the complex ways in which photographs assist in the construction of a colonial culture.” [9]

Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place, 2002

My paintbrush/ stylus is electronic and my canvas/ stage is networked, the objective is to interrogate these polemics through the production of an interactive creative digital text. In using new media to represent my own subjective ethno-cultural identity, as image-maker I am disrupting the subject/ object dichotomy, even if playfully.

Simultaneously, by articulating my own hybrid masala [10] mix, I am attempting to reveal the construction of racial stereotypes as a cultural, social and political fabrication.[11] Inside this inter-textual work, fascination with the ‘spectacle’ of the Other is manipulated – through fetishisation and repetition where.

“…The image of the colonial Other becomes a trope of desire for the Western viewer…through repetitive, fetishistic dissemination of stereotypes, the colonized subject becomes “mummified”…” [12]

Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place, 2002

In this artful game, the player/participant is encouraged to engage with a program that makes visible the artifice of representation. [13]

blackBOX reflects on the construction of Nina’s hybrid East/West identity, through virtual classical Indian dance pieces, her father’s stories of growing up in Shanghai, Russian jazz music, and the modal influences (taximia) that she experiences in fragments of Rembetika Greek blues music.

Some years ago I had the task of packing away my grandparent’s possessions after their death in Punchbowl, Sydney. Overwhelmed by the idea of sifting through his father and mother’s personal effects, my father Serge Ermoll Jr asked me to empty the house of family objects. In the process I discovered many valuable documents, musical scores that my composer grandfather had written, letters, portraits, family photographs and objects from their temporary home Shanghai, China.

Sergei and Xenia Ermolaeff on a city bus Shanghai, China, circa 1930s
Sergei and Xenia Ermolaeff on a city bus Shanghai, China, circa 1930s

Shanghai had always conjured many emotions for me while growing up. It was an idealised space in my grandparent’s eyes and many stories were passed down to me as a child about the metropolis, the struggle to survive and the ultimate expulsion. My grandparents were fortunate to obtain passage on the Chan Sha ship [14] to Hong Kong and ultimately Australia with sponsorship through the International Refugee Organisation (IRO) in 1950. It transported my grandfather Sergei Ermolaeff, his wife Xenia and their son Serge Jr (my father) via Hong Kong to Sydney.


 International Refugee Organisation Far East Mission (IRO) papers
 granting Mr and Mrs Sergei Ermolaeff and son eligibility for legal and political
 protection as refugees, Shanghai, China, 1950
International Refugee Organisation Far East Mission (IRO) papers
granting Mr and Mrs Sergei Ermolaeff and son eligibility for legal and political
protection as refugees, Shanghai, China, 1950

Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, letter of reference from the manager of the Cathay Hotel, Shanghai, China,1950.
Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, letter of reference from the manager of the Cathay Hotel, Shanghai, China,1950

As I sifted through my grandparent’s personal effects, photographs and documents, I realised that the stories I heard growing up were not the wild ramblings of senile refugees, who had been one too many times in and out of mental institutions. Xenia had received electro-shock therapy for depression following her arrival in Australia and Sergei had also been admitted to Callan Park Hospital (now known as the Rozelle Hospital), Sydney for depression. Rather, these vivid memories painted a picture of pre-revolutionary Shanghai. My grandfather’s musical scores took on a more abstract patina, offering a window into a larger picture of twentieth century revolution and the quasi-colonial outpost of the International Settlement and concessions of Shanghai in China.[15]

Russian journal RUBEZH рубеж News of frontier Harbin Issue 33 1938 Manchuria cover shot Serge Сергей Ермолаев Japanese occupation
Russian journal RUBEZH рубеж News of frontier Harbin Issue 33 1938 Manchuria cover shot Serge Сергей Ермолаев Japanese occupation

A personal collage on the wall of Sergei’s Punchbowl home consisted of a photograph of Sergei with a cut out picture of Generalissimo Chiang Kai Chek pasted on to his heart. As an elderly man he claimed to have played with Whitey Smith’s band at Chiang Kai Chek’s wedding to Mei-Lie Soong.[16]

The piecing together of many old photographs from his Shanghai days became, in his old age, a means of expressing his displacement from China, which was a direct result of the communist revolution. Chiang Kai Shek represented the government prior to this displacement and this personal collage reveals Sergei’s political inclinations. For me, it was at that moment that Sergei’s music and pre-revolutionary Chinese pop music became powerful articulations of these wider historical events, a Chinese modernity that was suppressed and resurfaced in contemporary times.[17] I didn’t know in what form or medium I wanted to represent this story; however, a discovery that coincided with my computer based art studies at University pointed the way.

At Fischer Research, the University of Sydney Library, I chanced upon a book entitled Shanghai: A Century of Change In Photographs [18]. An uncanny event occurred, I opened the book and staring from its pages was a portrait of my grandfather and his orchestra pictured circa 1930 at the Majestic Hotel, Shanghai. I also found a copy of this photograph in Captain V.D. Jiganov’s Russians in Shanghai, (1936.). This photograph is frequently reproduced alongside Nikolai Sokolsky’s Russian Ballet, Les Ballets Russes de Shanghai, from Captain V. D. Zhiganov, Russians in Shanghai (1936), that resided in the Lyceum Theatre. A case in point is the same juxtaposition between these two images in Alexandre Vassiliev’s, Beauty in Exile: The Artists and Nobility Who Fled the Russian Revolution and Influenced the World of Fashion, Slovo, Moscow, 1998, p129. Was this random? These two images do not sit side-by-side in Zhiganov’s private publication for the Russian community.

The connection is crucial – they represent powerful moments in the influence of the Russian émigré cultural community in Shanghai, both venues located in the French Concession. The Russian aesthetics of ballet and the sonic impulses of the Russian jazz orchestra were to shape the modern hybrid sounds and expressions that was the crucible of shanghai modern culture.

Search a sonic archive of musical scores introduced and composed in Shanghai by Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев.

Serge Ermoll & His Orchestra 1929 the Majestic Hotel image quoted in V. D. Zhiganov Russians in Shanghai (1936)
Serge Ermoll & His Orchestra 1929 the Majestic Hotel demolished image quoted in V. D. Zhiganov Russians in Shanghai (1936)


The ballroom was one of the main point where Shanghai dancing craze started, with a jazz band featuring, local stars such as Serge Ermoll and Whitey Smith. In 1927, the Majestic Ballroom was the location of a major event, the wedding of Chiang Kai Shek, the ruler of China then, and Song Meiling. (See the Soong Sister for more information). In 1929, Hollywood star Douglas Fairbank and his wife Mary Pickford visited Shanghai and stayed at the Majestic, underlining its success on Shanghai scene… In 1929, Hollywood star Douglas Fairbank and his wife Mary Pickford visited Shanghai and stayed at the Majestic, underlining its success on Shanghai scene.

Corridors of the Majestic

With all its grandeur, the Majestic Hotel proved to big and too luxurious to be really profitable, and the hotel was sold to developers at the end of 1929.

Shanghailander: The blog about Old SHANGHAI Shanghailander.net/2017/04/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-majestic-hotel/anghai
Serge Ermoll & His Orchestra 1929 the Majestic Hotel image quoted in V. D. Zhiganov Russians in Shanghai (1936) from “Cosmopolitan Shanghai” by 陈丹燕 Chen Danyan (2005) and Lynn Pan’s, Shanghai: A century of change in photographs, 1843-1949
Serge Ermoll & His Orchestra 1929 the Majestic Hotel image quoted in V. D. Zhiganov Russians in Shanghai (1936) from “Cosmopolitan Shanghai” by 陈丹燕 Chen Danyan (2005) and Lynn Pan’s, Shanghai: A century of change in photographs, 1843-1949

At a later date, I traced the reproduction of this photograph to its original, which I discovered in my grandfather’s possessions. The presence of this photograph underscored the historical fact that the Majestic Hotel 大華飯店, Dai Hua was demolished and no longer exists. Haunting the colonial hotel ballrooms, entertaining the foreigners, a foreigner himself, Manchurian Chinese born Russian, this photograph of my grandfather Sergei seemed part ethnographic relic and part Eastern Hollywood publicity still.


Monsieur Sergei Ermolaeff’s (Russe) Permis de Conducteur d’Automobile 
Concession Française Changhai 20 October 1930
Monsieur Sergei Ermolaeff’s (Russe) Permis de Conducteur d’Automobile 
Concession Française Changhai 20 October 1930

In Sergei’s personal effects I discovered Monsieur Sergei Ermolaeff’s (Russe) Permis de Conducteur d’Automobile, Concession Française Changhai 20 October 1930, he lived at the Astor House Hotel Room 25 while he was the resident band leader in the hotel. Another fortuitous event occurred in this journey.

A friend and colleague of my parents gave me a book entitled Sky High To Shanghai by Frank Clune, an account of his Oriental travels in the Spring of 1938, when he visited Tokyo, Japan, Harbin, Manchuria and Shanghai, China. My friend had stumbled upon this book in a second hand bookshop and opened the pages directly to read this passage…

Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, the Astor House  礼查饭店 Hotel Ballroom/ Bandstand with peacock fan half shell  and Pathe label collage - Peacock Hall the cities first ballroom, Shanghai, China,1930
Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, the Astor House 礼查饭店 Hotel Ballroom/ Bandstand with peacock fan half shell and Pathe label collage – Peacock Hall the cities first ballroom, Shanghai, China,1930

“I salved Christian conscience by handing out a few sen [to the White Russian beggar] before entering the bright lights and blare of Serge and His Music Masters, who were hitting up Hot Cha Cha, with redhot rhythm. If Jimmy Bendrodt was up this way, I’m sure he’d have grabbed Serge and His Music Masters for a season in Sydney. The Fantaisie Cabaret has a fame which goes back to the dramatic days of 1905, when the tsarist officers of high degree wickedly waltzed and merrily mazurka’d here with cosmopolitan demi-mondes while the defenders of Port Arthur waited in vain for the relief that came not. The cabaret is a large hall with tables surrounding the dancing floor to cater for cabareteers. No need to feel lonely here; a score of taxidancers are available…their fee for a dance is whatever you like to give them…Olga…This cultivated girl, and hundreds like her in Harbin, are at their wit’s end to know how to sustain the fading courage of their hearts…The only difference she said between White and red Russians is that one has a passport and one has a soul…The cabaret got merrier and merrier. But I got more and more unhappy as Olga unfolded her tale of tragedy. Serge’s Hot Cha Cha band hit up the rhythm and a singer with a splendid tenor voice made the Russian rafters rattle.”[19]

Frank Clune, Sky High to Shanghai, 1948

Sergei played the many Russian community bars, clubs and cafés –

BALALIAKA Cafe starring Alexander Vertinsky with Serge Ermoll (Sergei Ermolaeff) and His Orchestra, Sunday Tea Dance Shanghai, 1933
BALALIAKA Cafe starring Alexander Vertinsky with Serge Ermoll (Sergei Ermolaeff) and His Orchestra, Sunday Tea Dance Shanghai, 1933

My father Sergei Jr told me that my grandmother Xenia had made her way to Shanghai via Vladivostok and Harbin, with her three sisters from Moscow in the early 1920s, to find husbands. The Russian revolution and civil war ensured thousands of Russian émigré’s would make their way to the quasi-colonial Russian enclave of Harbin, founded 1898 by Tsar Nicholas II, a Russian city in China in the north of Manchuria.

Чужие города Strange Cities a portrait of Xenia Vladimirovna (Ermolaeff) by Josepho Schick
Чужие города Strange Cities a portrait of Xenia Vladimirovna (Ermolaeff) by Josepho Schick

There Xenia would meet Manchurian born Sergei in a nightclub. There is a family story that Xenia was a dancer or singer at the Hotel Modern in Harbin. In the 1930s the Russian émigré’s held many community events and held an annual beauty contest. In the 1930s Xenia-Garretta-Ermolaeva, Baroness von Sieberg, and Olga Pushkareva won beauty queens Miss Harbin, published in Russian journal RUBEZH рубеж News of frontier Harbin Issue 33 1938 Manchuria. [19{a}] Thus dancing began to connote for me a means of survival, performing, and a way of making a living. The ballroom of my imagination was becoming a space of economic exchange.

Nikolai Sokolsky’s Russian Ballet, Les Ballets Russes de Shanghai, in Captain V. D. Zhiganov, Russians in Shanghai (1936), later published in Lynn Pan’s, Shanghai: A century of change in photographs, (1843-1949)
Nikolai Sokolsky’s Russian Ballet, Les Ballets Russes de Shanghai, in Captain V. D. Zhiganov, Russians in Shanghai (1936), later published in Lynn Pan’s, Shanghai: A century of change in photographs, (1843-1949). [20]

The Serge Ermoll and His Orchestra photograph Majestic Hotel is often reproduced alongside Nikolai Sokolsky’s Russian Ballet, Les Ballets Russes de Shanghai, both appear in Captain V. D. Zhiganov, Russians in Shanghai (1936), Lynn Pan’s, Shanghai: A century of change in photographs, (1843-1949) and Alexandre Vassiliev’s, Beauty in Exile: The Artists and Nobility Who Fled the Russian Revolution and Influenced the World of Fashion, Slovo, Moscow, 1998, p129. It is interesting to note that Vassiliev attributes the Sokolsky’s Ballet as “The ballet troupe at the Railroad Assembly after a performance at the operetta Maritza, Harbin, 1940, in his chapter ‘Russian Harbin’. Did Sokolsky’s Ballet travel the well worn circuit – Shanghai, Tsingtao, Tianjin, Harbin?

“Nikolai Sokolsky trained professionally in classical ballet in Saint Petersburg after leaving following the Russian Revolution, toured in Western Europe with the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Sokolsky began staging ballet in Shanghai as early as 1929 and was a leading figure in the scene by the mid-1930s, staging annual seasons with works such as Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, and others, performed by dancers from Europe and Russia … wife, Evgenia Baranova, who had performed in several of the earlier productions….By 1946… Sokolsky’s school production of Coppélia… was accompanied by the Shanghai Municipal Symphonic Orchestra and was performed at the Lyceum Theatre on June 19–20, 1948.”

Emily Wilcox, ‘A Revolt from Within: Contextualizing Revolutionary Ballet’, Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy, University of California Press, 2019, p. 119-155. [20a]

Another photograph that is often curated to connote this historical moment and is juxtaposed in Zhiganov, Pan, and Vassiliev’s texts is Woman From Shanghai, 1936, Photo by Iwata Nakayama.

Woman From Shanghai, 1936, Photo by Iwata Nakayama.
Woman From Shanghai, 1936, Photo by Iwata Nakayama.

“Taken the year Japan invaded Shanghai, this photograph is dark and rather mysterious. The woman is smoking a cigarette. Her face is mostly cast in the shadows while half of her face and the smoke of the cigarette is highlighted. Given the time period this photo was taken in; it has been theorised of having an undertone of repressed fear.” Naomi Tham, “Comparison of two Japanese Photographers in the Avant-Garde and Surrealist movement” https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/ntham003/category/17s1-dp2002-lec-le/final-papers-17s1-dp2002-lec-le/ [20b]

The model for this photograph is a woman who was a featured dancer at a Kobe dance hall,

Sokolsky’s Russian Ballet was situated in the Lyceum Theatre. “The Russian Cultural Center in Shanghai In 1930 Shanghai, Lyceum Theatre was one of the most important Russian cultural centers. The prosperity of the theater coincided with the prosperity of the Russian-Chinese community in Shanghai formed after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Civil War. There are many intellectuals and artists among Russians in Shanghai. Before their arrival, there had never been so many musicians, dancers and actors in Shanghai.”

The Russian Brilliance of Shanghai Lyceum Theatre 2019-04-20, Original World Finance Channel https://3g.163.com/news/article/ED6TOM1S0519DGOG.html [20(c)]
Lyceum Theater, Collection, Virtual Shanghai, Shanghai,1931 https://www.virtualshanghai.net/References/Repository?ID=9
Lyceum Theater, Collection, Virtual Shanghai, Shanghai,1931 https://www.virtualshanghai.net/References/Repository?ID=9

These vestiges of material history form an archive tracing the arrival of western modernity in China. Leo Ou-Fan Lee traces this “flowering of a new urban culture in China” in his publication Shanghai Modern [21]. Lee does this by investigating modern Chinese popular literature, film advertising, urban spaces, architecture, and fashion. He analyses the dialectics creating a unique Chinese modern culture, a melting pot of foreign influences of the west in the International Settlement of Shanghai, along with the impact of Chinese intelligentsia, commercialism, and traditional Chinese political and social culture. It is through this lens that we can interpret Чужие города Strange Cities (Chuzie Goroda) and Над розовым морем Over The Rosy Sea/ The Pink Sea – (Nad Rosavuim Morem), produced by foreigners in China for a foreign audience, the songs lament their liminal space.

Danilevsky Sisters cabaret act Shanghai inRussians  in Shanghai by Captain V. D. Zhiganov (1936)
Danilevsky Sisters cabaret act Shanghai in Russians  in Shanghai by Captain V. D. Zhiganov (1936)


Many of the displaced Russian émigrés formed part of the rich tapestry of the cultural and entertainment world of the city. High and low culture fermented into a brilliant hybrid entrepôt.

Metropole Hotel Shanghai 1937 window of Hamilton House Shanghai in www.hpcbristol.net/visual/ro-n0296

Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra performed live across many venues in the old city, bars, clubs, cabaret’s, so too he was a recording artist for Pathé Records Orient. Sergei’s music was featured in many wireless radio broadcasts. By the 1930s Pathé dominated the domestic Chinese record industry, pioneering the dissemination of Chinese language popular culture and a new musical genre the Chinese pop song. Andrew Jones refers to Sinified jazz music as yellow music (huangse yinyue) – vulgar, pornographic, petit bourgeois – that was playing in the nightclubs at the time, condemned as seductive ‘decadent sound’ (mimi zhi yin). A hybrid form inspired by American jazz: Gershwin meets Chinese folk melodies, Tang dynasty love poems and the romantic cliché of Tin Pan Alley, were expressed in tunes like “Darling I Love You” (Meimei wo ai ni), see ‘Listening to the Chinese Jazz Age’, in A.F. Jones, Yellow Music, 2001 [22].

The circulation of sheet music and gramophone records ensured this pop music was increasingly played in the nightclubs, bars and cafés greatly influenced by artist Li Jinhui’s idiom, that spawned stars such as ‘golden voice’ Zhou Xuan, Wang Renmei and Nie Er. Explore Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra Чужие города Strange Cities: Sonic Archive of Musical Scores #Shànghǎi #上海. When African-American trumpet player Buck Clayton and His Harlem Gentlemen played the Canidrome Ballroom, Shanghai 1935, gramophone records had already inspired a rage of black jazz bands, and cemented Shanghai as the ‘jazz mecca’ of the East. Jones discusses their African-American provenance as catipulting them above the Filipino bands, Russian bands, and East Indian bands. Legend has it that Clayton ‘learned to drink vodka from White Russian refugees… and (fratinized with) low-class Russian hostesses and taxi dancers, part of Shanghai’s seamy nocturnal demimonde…”[23]

“Imagine turning the streamlined Bakelite knobs of a wireless radio to the ether above Shanghai 1937. As the vacuum tubes begin to amplify signals broadcast from that distant world, what sort of sounds emerge?… the crash of gongs, the plucked strings of a sanxian, the rhythmic recitations of drum song, the hypnotic drone of classical sutras, the sharply nasal syllables of Peking Opera? The warble of a Chinese sing-song girl? The lilt of Hawaiian steel guitar? The propulsive swing of big band jazz? Advertisements? Anthems? String quartets?…” [24].

The gramophone, the phonographic record, the fascination with the technology of the sonic ‘apparatus’ is only rivalled by the visual one, cinema and film – the Cinématographe. Jones reminds us the Lumière brothers only revealed this new media device in 1896 at the Yu Yuan teahouse in Shanghai, China eight months after its unveiling in the basement of the Grand Café, Paris (travelling the speed of a steamship).[25]

得不到的愛情 Can’t Get Your Love, Zhang LeShanghai Restoration Project 2014
Serge Ermoll (Sergei Ermolaeff) and His Music Masters play for Pathé Records Orient
Serge Ermoll (Sergei Ermolaeff) and His Music Masters play for Pathé Records Orient

Sergei’s jazz orchestra contributed to this modern culture. Sergei, Chinese born and ethnically Russian, possessed no passport and was legally a displaced person, a liminal space occupied by many in those times.Explore Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra Чужие города Strange Cities: Sonic Archive of Musical Scores #Shànghǎi #上海.

Сергей Ермолаев Serge plays the #FrenchHorn Shanghai Symphony Orchestra 1946-1950 non-stop – #identitypapers #Shànghǎi #上海 until departure to #HongKong then Australia. https://www.shsymphony.com
Сергей Ермолаев Serge plays the #FrenchHorn Shanghai Symphony Orchestra 1946-1950 non-stop – #identitypapers #Shànghǎi #上海 until departure to #HongKong then Australia. https://www.shsymphony.com

_________________________________________________
1 Serge Ermoll Сергей Ермолаев and His Orchestra, the Cathay Hotel, Shanghai, China,1930
1(a) Brian Castro, Shanghai Dancing, Giramondo Publishing, Australia, 2003, p3-6.
1 Joanna Woodall (Ed), Portraiture: Facing the Subject, Manchester University Press, New York, 1997, p1.
1(b) The majestic British Iraqui Jew – Sir Victor Sasson’s Cathay Hotel Shanghai 1936, image quoted in http://www.nickgrantadventures.com/Shanghai_Cathy_Hotel_Bund.htm
2 Чужие города Strange Cities a portrait of Xenia Vladimirovna (Ermolaeff) by Josepho Schick 1930s.
3 Чужие города Strange Cities https://strangeblackbox.net
4 Brian Castro, Shanghai Dancing, Giramondo Publishing, Australia, 2003, p3-6.
5 El Lissittzky, “The Book: The Electro-Library, Topology of Typography”, Merz, No. 6, Hanover, July 1923, in El Lissitzky: Life, Letters, Texts, Thames and Hudson, UK,1992.
7 (Eds) Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson, Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place, Routledge, London, 2002, p3.
8 Hight and Sampson op cit p1.
9 Jean-Paul Sartre, “From One China to Another”, Preface to “D’une Chine a l’autre”, by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Jean-Paul Sartre, Editions Robert Delpire, 1954 in, Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism, Routledge, London, 2001, p2
10 masala a Hindi Indian word denoting spice mix, having culinary usage.
11 (Eds) Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson, Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ingRace and Place, Routledge, London, 2002, p3.
12 Jean-Paul Sartre, “From One China to Another”, Preface to “D’une Chine a l’autre”, by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Jean-Paul Sartre, Editions Robert Delpire, 1954 in, Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism , Routledge, London, 2001, p2
13 (Eds) Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson, Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place, Routledge, London, 2002, p2.
14 Australia AdLib, Chan Sha, Interview with Serge Ermoll Jr. by Jon Rose, Australian Broadcasting Corporation http://www.abc.net.au/arts/adlib/stories/s877113.htm
15 Discussion of Russian Jewish refugees in the International Settlement Shanghai bringing Western music to China, in the Kofman family story, Menorah of Fang Bang Lu online documentary (Andrew Jakubowicz, writer/producer, and Tatiana Pentes,
multimedia design) http://www.cosmoshanghai.net/ShanghaiSite/index.htm
16 Whitey Smith with C.L. McDermott, I Didn’t Make a Million, Manila, 1956, p51-52, and Tales of Old Shanghai https://talesofoldchina.com
17 “The Russian revolution sent thousands of White Russians in flight to China. In musical matters…the Russians were demonstrably less racist than most of the treaty port Caucasians. While the most impoverished of this group scandalized other Europeans by working as bodyguards and prostitutes for the Chinese, others supported themselves as musicians. White Russian bands played in Shanghai, Harbin, Qingdao. More classically minded players gave piano or violin lessons to young bourgeois Chinese When the Shanghai conservatory was established in the 1920s, several Russians joined its faculty.” In Richard Curt Kraus, Pianos and Politics in China: middle class ambitions and the struggle over western music , Oxford University Press, 1989, p5.
18 Lynn Pan, SHANGHAI: A Century of Change in Photographs 1843-1949, Hai-Feng Publishing Co, Hong Kong, 1996.
19 Frank Clune, Sky High to Shanghai, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1948, p197–199.
19(a) Russian journal RUBEZH рубеж News of frontier Harbin Issue 33 1938 Manchuria.
20 Nikolai Sokolsky’s Russian Ballet, Les Ballets Russes de Shanghai, in Captain V. D. Zhiganov, Russians in Shanghai (1936), p272 later published in Lynn Pan’s, Shanghai: A century of change in photographs, (1843-1949) see Paul French, How White Russian ballet dancers sparked a revolution in China’s dance scene, North China Daily Post, Nov 2020 https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3107622/how-white-russian-ballet-dancers-sparked
20(a) Emily Wilcox, ‘A Revolt from Within: Contextualizing Revolutionary Ballet’, Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy, University of California Press, 2019, p. 119-155. “Sokolsky Achieves Success as Leader of Flying Ballet,” China Press, August 4, 1929; “New Ballet Production to Be Given Here Fri: Russian Group to Open Season with Coppelia on November 13, 14,” China Press, November 12, 1936; “Ballet Russe Scores Again in Fairy-Tale: ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Given Warm Reception,” China Press, February 5, 1938; “Le Ballet Russe to Open Season Nov. 26 with Big Double Bill,” China Press, November 1937. Sokolsky’s company also toured Japan in 1936. Amir Khisamutdinov, “History of the Russian Diaspora in Japan,” Far Eastern Affairs, no. 2 (2010): 92–100.
20(b) Woman From Shanghai, 1936, Photo by Iwata Nakayama, in Naomi Tham, “Comparison of two Japanese Photographers in the Avant-Garde and Surrealist movement” https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/ntham003/category/17s1-dp2002-lec-le/final-papers-17s1-dp2002-lec-le/ See Andrew Field, Shanghai’s Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919–1954, The Chinese University Press, 2010.
20(c) The Russian Brilliance of Shanghai Lyceum Theatre 2019-04-20, Original World Finance Channel https://3g.163.com/news/article/ED6TOM1S0519DGOG.html
21 Leo Ou-Fan Lee, Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945, Harvard University press, Cambridge, MAA, 1999.
See Alexandre Vassiliev’s, Beauty in Exile: The Artists and Nobility Who Fled the Russian Revolution and Influenced the World of Fashion, Slovo, Moscow, 1998, p129.
22 – 25 Andrew F. Jones, ‘Listening to the Chinese Jazz Age, in Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age, Duke University Press, London, 2001, p21.

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