Feature: Chinese orchestra enchants American audiences with innovative folk music
                 English.news.cn | 2015-12-22 04:04:34 | Editor: huaxia

Artists from the China National Traditional Orchestra perform on a media preview at the Lincoln Center, in New York, the United States, Dec. 18, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Lei)

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- As the last note of the last encore faded away at Carnegie Hall here on Sunday, the China National Traditional Orchestra's U.S. tour came to an end with a standing ovation.

The performance was the last of the orchestra's five in the United States. The first three took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, and the fourth at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Well before the start of the concert, a huge crowd of revelers, defying the frigid weather, swarmed into the venerable New York venue, ready to "rediscover" the oriental music with the performance, which is entitled "Impression: Rediscover Chinese Music."

"I hope to know a little more Chinese culture through the music," said Theresa Forster, one of the audience, who lived in New Jersey and had traveled about one and a half hours to watch the show.

"But it's worth it. The performance is amazing and breathtaking," she said after the concert.

Xi Qiang, head of the orchestra, said that the program employs an innovative storytelling technique with the help of lighting and sets, so as to lure the audience into the stories behind the classical music.

All the eight works, including Blossoms on a Moonlit River in Spring, Chu-Han War and The Moon Reflected on the Er-quan, were chosen on the basis of their popularity and given innovative touches, Xi said in an earlier interview with Xinhua.

Artists from the China National Traditional Orchestra perform on a media preview at the Lincoln Center, in New York, the United States, Dec. 18, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Lei)

As for the title of the program, Jiang Ying, the orchestra's resident composer, said: "The word 'rediscover' means that through our adaption, you will get a new, refreshing feeling toward these centuries-old traditional music works that you have heard many times."

"The whole idea of the program is novelty and innovation. We retrofitted the classics to better cater for modern tastes," she added.

The ensemble only played the concert version of the program at Carnegie Hall as the equipment for multimedia effects cannot be used in the hall.

Still, the performance was enthusiastically received by the audience.

"The duo (of pipa and xiao) is absolutely stunning. They were really beautiful," said Beverly Saadeh, who also came from New Jersey.

She said it was the first time that she had attended a Chinese folk music concert, but she would "absolutely" consider going to another one in the future.

Ritchie Vener, who was also among the audience, joked that he and his wife will consider going to Beijing next time to watch the show with all the multimedia elements.

The orchestra has already performed the program for about 30 times in cities across China. The contemporary tweaking with classic music pieces has enchanted many young fans back home.

However, many may wonder whether the modern composition still resonates with Western theatergoers, who are less familiar with traditional Chinese music.

"Our performance has gone down well with audiences in Washington. And we were surprised to find that half of the theatergoers are Westerners," said Liu Sha, the conductor of the program.

Meanwhile, Jiang, recalling their U.S. premiere in Washington on Dec. 11, said that at the end of the performance, all members of the audience stood up and refused to leave until they secured three encores from the ensemble.

Artists from the China National Traditional Orchestra perform on a media preview at the Lincoln Center, in New York, the United States, Dec. 18, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Lei)

Besides the "Rediscover Chinese Music" program, the 110-member orchestra also delighted U.S. audiences with another top-notch program, "Splendor of Folk Music," which was staged at the Lincoln Center on Friday.

The program featured seven orchestral works that are mostly based on ancient poems and prominent traditional Chinese instruments to showcase the diversity of Chinese folk music.

"I recognized the music. I mean the instruments are distinctively Chinese, but the melody, harmony and structure are common with Western classical," Sean Piccoli, a music critic working for New York Classical Review, told Xinhua after the Friday show.

This familiarity is "the greatest surprise of the performance," said Piccoli, who had described the concert as an "adventure" for him before the show started.

Piccoli is not alone in feeling the resonance.

On Wednesday, an event at Princeton University featuring a live "trailer" of the two programs drew about a hundred people from the university and local communities.

Keith Lane, a local resident, told Xinhua that he felt a sense of familiarity with the last work played by musician Feng Mantian on the zhongruan, an ancient Chinese instrument.

"I can relate it to a lot of modern music and the blues that I heard many years ago," he said. "Music is music. It can take down language barriers. Through music, you can get what the musicians are trying to express."

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Feature: Chinese orchestra enchants American audiences with innovative folk music

English.news.cn 2015-12-22 04:04:34

Artists from the China National Traditional Orchestra perform on a media preview at the Lincoln Center, in New York, the United States, Dec. 18, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Lei)

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- As the last note of the last encore faded away at Carnegie Hall here on Sunday, the China National Traditional Orchestra's U.S. tour came to an end with a standing ovation.

The performance was the last of the orchestra's five in the United States. The first three took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, and the fourth at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Well before the start of the concert, a huge crowd of revelers, defying the frigid weather, swarmed into the venerable New York venue, ready to "rediscover" the oriental music with the performance, which is entitled "Impression: Rediscover Chinese Music."

"I hope to know a little more Chinese culture through the music," said Theresa Forster, one of the audience, who lived in New Jersey and had traveled about one and a half hours to watch the show.

"But it's worth it. The performance is amazing and breathtaking," she said after the concert.

Xi Qiang, head of the orchestra, said that the program employs an innovative storytelling technique with the help of lighting and sets, so as to lure the audience into the stories behind the classical music.

All the eight works, including Blossoms on a Moonlit River in Spring, Chu-Han War and The Moon Reflected on the Er-quan, were chosen on the basis of their popularity and given innovative touches, Xi said in an earlier interview with Xinhua.

Artists from the China National Traditional Orchestra perform on a media preview at the Lincoln Center, in New York, the United States, Dec. 18, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Lei)

As for the title of the program, Jiang Ying, the orchestra's resident composer, said: "The word 'rediscover' means that through our adaption, you will get a new, refreshing feeling toward these centuries-old traditional music works that you have heard many times."

"The whole idea of the program is novelty and innovation. We retrofitted the classics to better cater for modern tastes," she added.

The ensemble only played the concert version of the program at Carnegie Hall as the equipment for multimedia effects cannot be used in the hall.

Still, the performance was enthusiastically received by the audience.

"The duo (of pipa and xiao) is absolutely stunning. They were really beautiful," said Beverly Saadeh, who also came from New Jersey.

She said it was the first time that she had attended a Chinese folk music concert, but she would "absolutely" consider going to another one in the future.

Ritchie Vener, who was also among the audience, joked that he and his wife will consider going to Beijing next time to watch the show with all the multimedia elements.

The orchestra has already performed the program for about 30 times in cities across China. The contemporary tweaking with classic music pieces has enchanted many young fans back home.

However, many may wonder whether the modern composition still resonates with Western theatergoers, who are less familiar with traditional Chinese music.

"Our performance has gone down well with audiences in Washington. And we were surprised to find that half of the theatergoers are Westerners," said Liu Sha, the conductor of the program.

Meanwhile, Jiang, recalling their U.S. premiere in Washington on Dec. 11, said that at the end of the performance, all members of the audience stood up and refused to leave until they secured three encores from the ensemble.

Artists from the China National Traditional Orchestra perform on a media preview at the Lincoln Center, in New York, the United States, Dec. 18, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Lei)

Besides the "Rediscover Chinese Music" program, the 110-member orchestra also delighted U.S. audiences with another top-notch program, "Splendor of Folk Music," which was staged at the Lincoln Center on Friday.

The program featured seven orchestral works that are mostly based on ancient poems and prominent traditional Chinese instruments to showcase the diversity of Chinese folk music.

"I recognized the music. I mean the instruments are distinctively Chinese, but the melody, harmony and structure are common with Western classical," Sean Piccoli, a music critic working for New York Classical Review, told Xinhua after the Friday show.

This familiarity is "the greatest surprise of the performance," said Piccoli, who had described the concert as an "adventure" for him before the show started.

Piccoli is not alone in feeling the resonance.

On Wednesday, an event at Princeton University featuring a live "trailer" of the two programs drew about a hundred people from the university and local communities.

Keith Lane, a local resident, told Xinhua that he felt a sense of familiarity with the last work played by musician Feng Mantian on the zhongruan, an ancient Chinese instrument.

"I can relate it to a lot of modern music and the blues that I heard many years ago," he said. "Music is music. It can take down language barriers. Through music, you can get what the musicians are trying to express."

[Editor: huaxia ]
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