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Chinese composers debut at NY festival

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-10-29 07:45

The China Now Music Festival's inaugural season was staged in New York from Oct 19 to 22, presenting seven world premieres by some of China's most-celebrated composers.

The 2018 China Now Music Festival is presented by the US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music in collaboration with the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

It's dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of music from contemporary China through an annual series of concerts and academic activities, says the institute's director, Jindong Cai.

The festival's theme is Facing the Past, Looking to the Future: Chinese Composers in the 21st Century. All concerts feature Bard College's renowned The Orchestra Now, conducted by Cai, who's also artistic director of the festival, and Chen Lin, a professor in the CCOM's music conducting department.

"Western classical music is developing in China at phenomenal speed, but just as exciting is the freshness that Chinese composers bring to the Western world," Cai says.

"With the China Now Music Festival as our looking glass, we hope to bring people and cultures from the East and the West together through music."

The opening concert at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, on Oct 19 included the world premiere of a work by a composer from the CCOM. The concert also premiered Chen Yi's and Zhou Long's Humen 1839 and Ye Xiaogang's My Faraway Nanjing for cello and orchestra in the United States.

The second concert, staged at the Lincoln Center on Oct 21, focused on how Chinese composers have looked into the past. The program confronted three significant events in Chinese history: the first Opium War of 1839-42, the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 and what is now known as the "sent-down youth"-young, urban Chinese sent to the countryside during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

The performance won thunderous applause.

"The music is beautiful, and the percussion is impressive," New York resident Suzanne Mark says.

Such historically themed music helps her better understand Chinese culture, she says.

Cai told a preconcert lecture on Oct 14: "Chinese composers... always want to communicate with society through music. So, this concert mainly reflects how Chinese composers have looked into the past."

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