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New York Philharmonic completes 12-year cycle of Chinese New Year concerts

By MINGMEI LI in New York | | Updated: 2024-02-22 10:59
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The New York Philharmonic hosted its annual Lunar New Year concert and gala at Lincoln Center'sDavid Geffen Hall on Tuesday night, once again celebrating the Year of the Dragon and the completionof a full 12-year cycle since the tradition was first introduced in 2012. Yu Long, who first introduced thetradition to the orchestra, again leads the concert. CHRIS LEE / FOR CHINA DAILY

The New York Philharmonic hosted its annual Lunar New Year concert and gala, celebrating the Year of the Dragon and the completion of a full 12-year cycle since the tradition was first introduced by the orchestra in 2012.

Yu Long, who first introduced the tradition to the orchestra, led the concert Tuesday, starting with composer Elliot Leung's Lunar Overture at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall.

"We can hear the loud and distinctive sound of the Beijing Opera gong, which adds a festive touch reminiscent of the Chinese New Year. The rhythm of this piece is fast, much like the way we exchange New Year's greetings," said Leung.

"We've now gone dragon to dragon," said Gary Ginstling, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic told China Daily. "We are so excited how the Lunar Year celebration at the New York Philharmonic has grown into one of our most important and special traditions."

He said that the connections fostered by music are always important and remain despite some challenges between countries, and that the New York Philharmonic has played an important role in cultural exchange for the Chinese community in the US and China.

"We've had regular appearances in China now for the past decade, collaboration with the Shanghai Symphony and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to create the Shanghai Orchestra Academy," he said. The orchestra also sent nine musicians to Shanghai to resume in-person training with young musicians in the summer of 2023.

"We are looking forward to taking the full New York Philharmonic back to China, back to Shanghai, as soon as we can," he said.

"The 12-year persistent efforts in disseminating diverse cultures, especially integrating Chinese music into this celebration, have enriched the multicultural exchanges of New York," Huang Ping, Chinese consul general in New York told China Daily. "It brings joy to everyone during the New Year. We also hope to further strengthen collaboration with the New York Philharmonic, having more cultural exchanges that promote friendship between our two countries."

Huang said Chinese audiences are looking forward to having the entire orchestra back in China for future performances.

The Lunar New Year concert also featured excerpts from Asian musician Zhou Tian's Transcend, composed in 2019 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1, with Clara-Jumi Kang in her New York Philharmonic debut as soloist; and Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals, narrated by Jamie Bernstein and featuring pianists Clayton Stephenson and Serena Wang as soloists.

"Our initial goal was to introduce the Lunar New Year concert to American audiences," said Angela Chen, the gala co-chair. "But we are glad to see a significant number of Chinese audiences, especially the younger generation, participating.

"The Chinese New Year and its traditions serve as a favorable promotion for the relationship between the two countries. Simultaneously, we also aim to let Americans experience the Chinese New Year, the importance of family, and the essence of love. No matter how far one may be, returning home for the New Year is a cherished tradition in China," she said.

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