Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Chinese Culture with the Debut of Spring Festival Concert

Feb 01, 2016, 09:00 ET from Shanghai Symphony Hall Management Co. Ltd.

SHANGHAI, Feb. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- At the time of the Chinese New Year, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will stage the all-new 2016 Spring Festival Concert on February 6 at the Shanghai Symphony Hall under the baton of Yan Huichang, principal conductor and music director of Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra.

The concert will be joined by master Sheng player Weng Zhenfa, emerging young Zheng player Su Chang as well as Mailasu, a Mongolian musician of Morin Khuur, overtone singing and Temur Huur. Together, the musicians and SSO will combine the ravishing traditional folk music with grand western orchestra music to present a music journey that shows the beauty and charisma of Chinese culture. The concert will be featuring contemporary compositions by Zhu Jian'er and Tang Jianping among others as well.

SSO plays a key role in advocating and promoting Chinese culture and music to audiences around the world. In addition to featuring masterpieces by Chinese composers throughout every season, the orchestra also keeps the tradition of bringing the "Chinese sound" when touring overseas by performing classic Chinese music.

The international stage is gradually growing to love Chinese music in recent years and global audiences are becoming more accepting to Chinese culture. Orchestras including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestra have hosted Spring Festival concerts to celebrate the traditional Chinese festival.

This year is SSO's first time staging the Spring Festival Concert after hosting Shanghai New Year's Concert successfully for seven consecutive years.

Spring Festival Concert Emerges as Chinese Culture Inspires New Global Trends

After seven years, the Shanghai New Year's Concert has become a well-established cultural brand that features internationally renowned maestros conducting local symphony orchestra to present all-time classics in western music to the audiences. Statistics showed that more than 560,000 people have watched the 2016 concert through live television and live streaming online and via mobile apps, which reflected that the Shanghai New Year's Concert, as a major cultural event in the holiday season, is being followed by audiences abroad.

Meanwhile the New Year's concert is being hosted around the world, more and more international orchestras are starting a new trend of staging Spring Festival concerts to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which has close collaborations with SSO in recent years, hosted the first Spring Festival Concert at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts with artists from China and the United States. The concert presented a different interpretation to music when Chinese folk masterpieces were expressed with western orchestra music.

Maestro Yu Long, music director of SSO, has conducted the New York Spring Festival's Concert for five consecutive years and commented that "the Spring Festival Concert by New York Philharmonic Orchestra has a wide influence, it also promotes the communication and understanding between Chinese and US people."

In addition to the concert, there are other traditional Spring Festival celebrations in New York City that has attracted locals to participate, such as Chinese New Year lighting ceremony, window displays, folk dances and the classic lion dance and dragon dance. Starting in 2016, Lunar New Year is a public school holiday in New York City, the schools will have one day off on February 8 to celebrate the festival.

Following New York Philharmonic Orchestra's footsteps, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has staged Spring Festival concerts for two consecutive years and were highly sought-after. Through these concerts, more and more audiences internationally are enjoying Chinese music while appreciating Chinese culture.

After years of introducing Chinese music to global audiences, SSO is ready to launch the all-new Spring Festival Concert.

"Launching the Spring Festival Concert as a brand not only has significant meanings to SSO, but also to the culture scene in Shanghai and China," said Zhou Ping, president of SSO, "Chinese culture needs more international exchanges and interactions, and telling the Chinese story in the form familiar to the western culture is a very good way to expand the influence of Chinese culture, and this is original intention of hosting the Spring Festival Concert, to spread Chinese culture in traditional western artistic expressions, which is more persuasive in promoting Chinese music works."

When East meets West – Portraying the Vivid and Joyful Spring Festival

As SSO was planning the programs for the 2015-16 season, a large number of Chinese works were included. At the Spring Festival Concert, SSO is giving folk music a new perspective not only by combining folk music with western orchestra, but also featuring contemporary Chinese compositions, which brings changes to the folk-only structures of traditional Spring Festival concerts. This is also maestro Yan's first time working with SSO.

"It's a great honor to collaborate with SSO, an orchestra with a long history, to celebrate the most traditional Chinese festival, and this music feast we've prepared for the audiences in Shanghai will show the rich and diverse symphonic characteristics of contemporary Chinese music," Yan said.

The 2016 Spring Festival Concert will open with Li Huanzhi's "Spring Festival Overture" that brings back the lively and festive scenes of people playing drums and gongs, singing and dancing.

The second piece is the first movement of Zhang Haofu's Symphony No. 1 "Chang'an" which will take the audiences to the strong and dramatic world of orchestra music. Zhang is a professor at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, his Symphony No.1 blends folk music and local operas in Shaanxi Province, China with religious songs from the medieval Europe. As a master in understanding and incorporating the essence of different music styles and genres, Zhang writes in the spirit of Chinese traditional music and in the form of western symphony with modern composing techniques.

Weng Zhenfa, a renowned Chinese Sheng player from Shanghai, will perform the third movement of Enjott Schneider's Concert for Sheng and Orchestra "Changes." This work arranged for 37-reed Sheng, an ancient instrument with thousands of years of history, takes a glimpse of the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes) and shows the perfect harmony between Sheng and orchestra.

Named as one of the "New Top Ten Zheng Performers" in China, Su Chang will perform Wang Danhong's "Ru Shi" for Zheng and orchestra. The piece was commissioned by Su in 2012 and highlights the sound of Zheng in the path of seeking traditional culture's echo in heart with emotions and feelings.

SSO is also very excited to present the angelic overtone singing for the first time at Shanghai Symphony Hall. As a World Intangible Cultural Heritage, overtone singing was originated from the herdsmen's imitation of natural sounds in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The art of overtone singing was almost lost for a long time but revived since the beginning of this century, young generation is also exploring new ideas while inheriting the ancient art. At the concert, Mailasu will be performing Tang Jianping's "Gen" for Morin Khuur, overtone singing, Temur Huur and orchestra to present the simple, unadorned and calming sounds.

The finale program of the Spring Festival Concert is Zhu Jian'er "Sketch of the Guizhou Ranges." Maestro Yan has conducted this work many times and said that "it's a classic piece I always listened to when I was studying at Shanghai Conservatory of Music and a few years ago Zhu arranged the traditional instruments version for Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra which I'm really fond of."

Three decades ago, the 60-year-old Zhu headed for the mountain ranges in southeast Guizhou Province to collect folk songs and listen to the original music of Miao and Dong peoples. With a strong root to the folk music, Zhu completed "Sketch of the Guizhou Ranges" using modern composition techniques to depict the beautiful sceneries and happy life of the people.

"After experiencing their life personally, I was surprised to find twelve-tone technique in the ethnic music, which had a great impact on me, it was very exciting to uncover a new world," Zhu said.

The concert will feature the third and fourth movements – "Serenade on a Moonlight Night" and "The Festival" that describe the rich and colorful folk culture and the joyful scenes in the mountain villages. By bringing together diverse folk music elements, modern composition techniques and dramatic orchestral music, this symphonic work is considered a masterpiece in contemporary orchestra works as it crossovers both the traditional and modern styles.

SOURCE Shanghai Symphony Hall Management Co. Ltd.