From Inner Mongolia to New York

Updated: 2012-01-16 13:40

By Han Bingbin (China Daily)

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The clear, young voices of the grasslands of northern China will ring out in New York's Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts on Jan 24 when the Quintessenso Children's Choir takes the stage.

These children, who are aged between 5 and 13, will sing in their mother tongue and tell America about the beauty of the Hulunbuir prairie where they live, in a tender-hearted introduction to a part of China few in the United States may know about.

The choir is scheduled to perform with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as part of the New York Philharmonic's celebration of the Chinese Spring Festival. The concert will be conducted by Yu Long, whom many call "China's Herbert von Karajan". The conductor was also the main motivator behind the children's choir trip to New York.

He first heard the children sing in 2009 and fell in love with their purity of delivery. Since then, he had led the China Philharmonic Orchestra in adapting many traditional Mongolian folk songs into symphonic arrangements and performed with the Quintessenso Children's Choir many times.

Last year when Yu was invited to conduct the New York orchestra's New Year concert, he decided to take the choir with him.

Choir director Wang Xiaozhe says working with a symphony orchestra is a complicated but satisfying process because the "simple structure of folk songs has the potential for a higher stage".

From Inner Mongolia to New York

The songs that are suitable are chosen, and the musicians work together to modify the melodies and structure to suit the arrangement for instruments. As folk songs have simple melodies that are repeated often in the same composition, sometimes up to six songs along the same theme are combined into a suite.

In case audiences don't understand the lyrics, the children often perform short segments of dance to visualize the message. "This is still a trial. I cannot guarantee that every song is going to be perfect, but we want to have the folk song genre's history to be recorded in a different way," says Wang.

The choir will give local audiences a preview at the Century Theater with the China Philharmonic Orchestra.

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