Chinese musicians perform during the Summer Family Festival 2019 in Los Angeles, the United States, June 30, 2019. The festival held in Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden features art and music from China, Japan and South Korea. (Xinhua/Li Ying)
by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, July 1 (Xinhua) -- A fun-filled Summer Family Festival kicked off Sunday with delightful musical performances by local Chinese musicians in Pasadena city's historic Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, 18 km east of Los Angeles downtown.
In a traditional wooden and bamboo Japanese-style tea house, Bei Bei performed the premiere of a new composition entitled Soulful Motion, on the Chinese guzheng, part of the Asian long zither family of instruments.
"I find Chinese music intriguing," said David Tate, a visitor from New York. "It's so different from our own styles of music. It transports you to faraway places and exotic lands..."
Born in Chengdu, now one of the top Chinese musical artists in the United States, Bei Bei has unique musical style combining traditional and classical elements with more contemporary creative interpretations.
She has issued four successful albums on iTunes and Spotify and was featured in LA Weekly as one of the "Most Fascinating People" in the city.
Another performer was Celia Liu, an internationally recognized virtuoso on the pipa -- the Chinese lute.
Liu also works frequently in the entertainment industry on original soundtracks for major Hollywood studio and television networks, such as Warner Brothers Studios and Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda TV series.
She has also played with the renowned Paris National Opera Theater Orchestra recording erhu and pipa concertos and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
Both the pipa and the guzheng instruments have been played in China for over 2,000 years and remain popular to this day.
Besides Chinese musical performances, origami (paper-folding), Chinese papercutting and fan-making, Korean folk painting, and other Asian arts were also exhibited at the festival, where families and other guests strolled through the scenic garden designed in the traditional "Hill and Pond Strolling Garden" theme.
The most popular participatory activities were the origami classes, where squares of paper were precisely folded into intricate shapes ranging from simple geometric forms to complex creatures.
"I love making the paper frogs," giggled six-year-old little Kaylie from Altadena, a neighbor city of Pasadena, "I'm a frog person!"
Kids and adults alike took a voyage into the past, exploring this ancient art. First begun in China -- where paper was invented -- the art of origami rapidly spread throughout Asia, reaching its pinnacle as a folk art form in Japan, where it is best known today.
"Origami is something special that kids or adults of any age can learn and enjoy," said Joel Sterns, one of the origami teachers at the festival who has written a number of books on Origami and teaches at the Pacific Ocean Paperfolders Club in Beverly Hills.
"Modular origami is a big trend now, where you make many small paper sculptures and combine them to create mandalas, wreaths, etc." he added.
The Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden was first commissioned in 1935 by Charles and Ellamae Storrier-Sterns, who hired Kinzuchi Fujii, a Japanese landscape designer immigrated to Pasadena from Japan.
Fujii designed and installed the magnificent, Japanese-style garden, working on it continuously up until 1942 when he was involuntarily detained at a California Internment Camp during WWII after the Japanese Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor, along with many other Japanese residents.
The garden was restored in 2005 and has since been placed on the U.S. National Register of Historical Landmarks and on the California Registry of Historic Places.