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Poetry recital becomes fun way of learning Chinese language and culture

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-03-13 15:12

There might be more imminent, practical ways to learn about China, yet a poetry recital in both Chinese and English turned out to be more fun for New Yorkers exploring rich history and culture of the rising Asian power.

A special event of Poetry, Music and Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer's Lens, held on Saturday at China Institute in downtown New York City, has drawn a large number of audiences and received continuous applause and praises, and presented the beautiful tunes of Chinese poems, music and its magnificent mountains to both Americans and Chinese.

Though the weather was not so friendly after Wednesday's snow, over 70 participants braved the cold and attended the special event, organized by the Gallery under China Institute, the oldest bicultural non-profit organization in the U.S. to focus exclusively on China.

The event is the first of its kind that combines Chinese poems reciting, traditional Chinese music playing and photos exhibition from China to give New Yorkers a particular opportunity to understand the Chinese culture and China.

"We have been offering programs, activities, courses, and seminars on the visual and performing arts, culture, history, music, philosophy, language, and literature for the general public, but this is really the first time that we have such a wonderful event that put poem, music and photo show together as one of our Orchid Pavilion Gatherings," said Willow Weilan Hai, Director of China Institute Gallery.

Founded in 1926 by a group of American and Chinese educators, China Institute in America is an institution with a mission to promote the appreciation of Chinese heritage and provides the historical context for understanding contemporary China.

The Orchid Pavilion Gathering is an annual event at China Institute celebrating and encouraging artistic inspiration in the spirit of celebrated calligraphy sage Wang Xizhi's (307-365) famous gathering with his poet friends on Mount Kuaiji.

Hai noted that Saturday's event is all about the mountains, because mountains in Chinese legend are the pillars that hold up the sky. Mountains were seen as places that nurture life. Their veneration takes the form of rituals, retreat from social society, and aesthetic appreciation with a defining role in Chinese art and culture.

"We hold such an event not only to pay homage to the major mountain ranges of China, but also hope that people pay more attention to nature, to environment protection, to purify our spirit and find renewal in a society when technology is growing so fast," Hai said.

Besides the well-known Chinese poet Li Bai's "The Moon Over the Fortress and Mountain" and Selections from the famous American poet Walter Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," 17 original poems from 12 poets, such as "That Mountain", "Ascending a Hight to Enjoy a Distant View", "Seeking Paths in Foggy Mountains", "Rocks" and "Views on the Other Side" were recited at the event.

Jennifer Monteleone, a graphic designer in New York, said she liked the event very much because it combines the three kinds of arts together and it is so great for people to learn about Chinese art and China this way.

The traditional classic Chinese music pieces "The Moon Over the Fortress and Mountain" based by Well-known Chinese Li Bai, "Homeward Bound" by Tao Yuanming and "Flowing Water" based on ancient Chinese story, were performed by the 7s Art Music group in New York City on the occasion.

Kevin Ge, founder of the group, said that he is so pleased that the Chinese music, poems and photos have found lovers among the American audiences.

After the poem reading and music appreciation program, Hai, also chief curator of the Art of the Mountain exhibition offered bilingual tours of the photo show, which features over 60 photographs, many of which are on view for the first time in the U.S, from more than 20 photographers. The exhibition, consisting of three sections, the Revered Mountains of China, Landscape Aesthetics in Photography and the New Landscape Photography, will run until December 2 this year.

Having entered the Chinese New Year of Dog, Chinese poets seem to be very active and audiences' interest in Chinese culture is also on the rise.

Just a month ago, the American Association of Chinese Writers hosted a recital in celebration of the Spring Festival. And April 14 will see the first and biggest poetry festival, organized by Chinese Americans in New York during the month of the US "National Poetry Month."

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