Feature: Concert featuring U.S.-China cultural exchanges held in New York to celebrate Lunar New Year


An annual concert by U.S. and Chinese musicians in New York made the Lunar New Year celebrations more colorful.

by Xinhua writer Liu Yanan

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — “The Sound of Spring,” an annual concert presented by musicians from U.S. and Chinese higher education institutions, has become part of celebrations of the Lunar New Year in the New York metropolitan area.

Around 1,000 people attended “The Sound of Spring” concert for 2024 on Sunday afternoon at Rose Theater as many were still in a high holiday mood on the second day of the Year of the Dragon.

“Yesterday, I actually had to work. I didn’t realize it was Chinese New Year. So, I actually didn’t take time off, but we celebrated today,” said a spectator who gave her first name as Chalsea.

“Usually we go out with friends and families and eat a big Chinese meal in celebrating Chinese New Year,” said Chalsea, who works in New York City and lives in New Jersey.

Chalsea said this was her first time attending “The Sound of Spring” concert, and she wanted her kids to see the performance.

Richard Zhou, a resident from New Jersey, told Xinhua that he drove about one and a half hours to watch the concert with tickets booked one month ago to secure a good seat.

Zhou said he was impressed by Guo Yazhi’s performance of “The Magic Land,” a suona concerto, although not familiar with the piece, which has its world premiere in 2023.

Zhou added that the Lunar New Year has been very important for the Chinese and he would stay in the town for a while with his family members.

It’s learned that tickets for the concert were sold out and Rose Theater even had to make extra arrangements to accommodate more people.

The two-hour performance won rounds of applause and praise from the audience.

Presented by the U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music, in collaboration with China’s Central Conservatory of Music, the concert for 2024 staged many new works by contemporary Chinese composers inspired by musical traditions and folk customs from different Chinese regions.

More than half of the repertoire has never been performed in the United States. The performance featured erhu artist Zhang Haiyue and dizi (bamboo flute) artist Feng Tianshi from the Central Conservatory of Music, in addition to renowned wind player Guo Yazhi, according to the U.S.-China Music Institute.

Cai Jindong, who conducted the performance, also spared minutes in introducing both the pieces and traditions of the Lunar New Year.

The musicians also presented the first leg of the performance on Saturday at Bard College, which is about 90 miles north of New York City.

Pre-concert family-friendly events including the demonstration of Chinese instruments, the making of handcrafts featuring the Lunar New Year as well as the creation of Chinese calligraphy works drew interest from spectators.

Kendall Griffith, who studies pipa performance at Bard College Conservatory of Music and spent one semester at China’s Central Conservatory of Music, demonstrated pipa performance in the lobby of the Rose Theater for visitors.

Griffith told Xinhua that she improved a lot in both pipa performance and Chinese language thanks to the very strict training and daily communication with teachers and classmates in Beijing.

“I’ve had a couple of recitals. I also had a performance in Beijing. That’s the first time. So that was nice,” said Griffith.

Griffith noted she learned a lot about Chinese culture when she was in high school and middle school in Boston.

It’s hoped that audiences could feel the vigor of Chinese music, as well as friendliness and love to the world in the performance, said Yu Hongmei, erhu artist and a top decision maker at Central Conservatory of Music.

Yu said she was involved in promoting cooperation with the U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music five years ago and would make efforts to deepen the cooperation in the future.

“We welcome more students from the United States and other places of the world to study Chinese music and culture in China and form different colors and styles after their return,” said Yu.

In partnership with the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, the U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music offers the first degree-granting program in Chinese instrument performance in a U.S. conservatory.■

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