San Francisco Symphony celebrates Chinese New Year with eastern music

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-17 20:33:11|Editor: Li Xia
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SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The San Francisco Symphony on Saturday celebrated the Year of the Pig with a vibrant concert for an audience of nearly 2,800 American and overseas Chinese music fans.

Held at the Louise Davies Symphony Hall in downtown, the concert started with a cheerful, jubilant opening vignette set to David Byrne's main title theme music from The Last Emperor as dozens of members of the San Francisco-based Dragon Horse Lion Dance Association danced with red lanterns in their hands along the aisles.

The two-hour concert, preceded with three "happy lions" dancing outside the concert hall to create a festive atmosphere, featured strong, typical Chinese elements.

The San Francisco Symphony presented the audience with a performance of Eastern repertoire including the Spring Festival Overture composed by famous Chinese composer Li Huanzhi, which was inspired from Chinese folk songs but incorporated with a distinctive Western flavor.

Followed was the Butterfly Lovers Concerto, a violin masterpiece composed in the late 1950s by two well-known Chinese composers He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, which was based on a touching Chinese folk legend, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, in the Romeo and Luliet mold.

Played by emerging violin star Angelo Xiang Yu, the violin piece produced the first climax of the concert and was greeted with thunderous applause.

In the next half, the San Francisco Symphony performed a popular Chinese love song, Jasmine Flower. It was adapted by famous contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun for use during the medal ceremony at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Canada's Red Chamber, a Chinese traditional instrumental ensemble, performed two contrasting Chinese folk songs, The Moon Over Spring River, a meditative nocturne, and Dance of the Yao People, which combined a graceful lyrical dance with energetic sound of music.

Famous contemporary musician An-lun Huang, now living in Canada, gave a stunning performance of the Saibei Dance from Saibei Suite No. 2. Its fluttering opening flute solo was reminiscent of John Adam's Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986, which the composer described as "fanfare for orchestra."

The joyfully exuberant piece brought down the house, with the audience enthusiastically giving a standing ovation to the artists on stage.

Jennifer Wagner, a product marketing professional in a Silicon Valley hi-tech company, said she was excited to celebrate the Chinese lunar new year by attending such a concert.

"My family's been celebrating Chinese new year," she said. "Sometimes we go to San Francisco Parade, but this time we're going to the symphony, and this show is amazing."

"It's part of our normal traditions now," added Wagner, who had worked for several years in Shanghai in eastern China.

She said her son is currently studying Chinese but is also a classical musical fan. "For us it has special meaning because it's combining two things we love, classical music and also the celebration of the Chinese lunar new year," she added.

Michael Lehomann, an attorney working for a U.S. federal court here, said it was the first time to attend a concert themed with classical Chinese music.

"I was very impressed and enjoyed it very much, particularly the butterfly concerto," he said.

Although Lehomann could not quite understand the story, "the quality of the performance by the artists is excellent," he said. "It's very interesting to hear real Chinese music."

Elizabeth Lee, a real estate manager in San Francisco, brought her 13-year-old daughter to the event.

"My daughter has been listening to opera and other Western music, but today she has a great opportunity to get herself immersed in Chinese music," Lee said.