Yellow River comes to Carnegie

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-11-01 11:14

Yellow River comes to Carnegie

China's National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut in New York on Monday, as part of a six-city coast-to-coast US tour, with programs combining Western and Chinese music highlighting cultural exchange between China and the US.

Under the baton of music director and chief conductor Lyu Jia, the orchestra performed the Yellow River Concerto with pianist Zhang Haochen, a gold medal and first-prize winner at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

A noted arrangement of Xian Xinghai's Yellow River Cantata, the melodic concerto takes classical Chinese musical ideas and weaves them into a Western musical form. The final movement, Defend the Yellow River, brought the audience to its feet for a standing ovation.

"It's a very different experience to perform the Yellow River in the US (compared to China), I feel I have a deeper connection with the piece," said the 27-year-old pianist Zhang. "As the post-'90s generation, we've grown up under a different context from the older generation, so our expression might be more open compared to theirs, but our passion and love for our motherland are the same."

Like Zhang, most of the members of the orchestra are young artists in their 20s and 30s. Lyu said he was impressed by the progress the young ensemble has made in the past few years. The orchestra was established in 2010.

Lyu said most members had received professional training at overseas schools or orchestras, so they had a good understanding of Western music. When they combine what they've learned in the West with Chinese music, it makes for a performance that is unique and impressive, Lyu said.

"Carnegie Hall is very famous in history and cultural tradition," Lyu said. "It also has the best acoustics.

"The cooperation that NCPA has had with Carnegie Hall has been very important for years," said Lyu. "The importance of understanding between nations is through culture, especially music, because music connects the world without any limits of language, cultural background, countries or borders."

During the US National Youth Orchestra's 2015 visit to Beijing, Carnegie Hall and the NCPA formed a special partnership, agreeing to explore areas of mutual interest, particularly opportunities that support cultural exchange between China and the US and in music education.

Anna Weber, general manager of Carnegie Hall, said both the NCPA and Carnegie Hall are committed to cultural exchanges between the two nations to foster communication and deepen understanding.

Besides the Yellow River Concerto, the orchestra also performed the US premiere of Lyuan Tan by Qigang Chen, composer and music director of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and Sibelius's Symphony No 2.

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