Chinese, U.S. musicians impress New Yorkers with “China Story”

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 — Renowned Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang joined hands with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to present here on Sunday a rare musical gala featuring China’s rich cultural tradition and vibrant modern life.
The concert, titled “China Story” in Chinese and “Songs of the Earth” in English, was staged in the Avery Fisher Hall at New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yongyan Hu, performing three of Ye’s symphonic soundscapes.
According to the Beijing Performance & Arts Group, one of the event’s sponsors, this is the first time in decades that a leading American orchestra has devoted a concert to the works of a single composer from China.
Moreover, two of the three carefully-selected pieces — The Last Paradise and The Song of the Earth — were having their U.S. premiere, while the remaining one, Twilight of the Himalayas composed in 2012-13, was performed for its world premiere.
The two-hour show was an obvious success, as it ended with most of the 2,000-strong audience rising to their feet for a minutes-long standing ovation.
While taking the basic form of the Western symphony, Ye’s music also contains many typical Chinese factors, such as the use of Zheng, an ancient Chinese string instrument, and the adoption of some traditional Chinese opera styles. Some parts of it may be hard to understand even for a native Chinese — for example, when a Chinese boy soprano sang in the Tibetan language, and Measha Brueggergosman, the Canadian soprano, chanted poetic verses from China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) in her not-so-fluent mandarin. But the audience loved it anyway.
“It is sensational, and it contains so much spiritual meaning, as to who we are and what we represent as inhabitants of this planet,” Nadia Kay, a New York resident, told Xinhua during the intermission.
“I think it will be remembered for many many generations,” she added.
For Anne Parsons, president and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the warm response from New Yorkers was no surprise at all.
“The music is so beautiful and also so well orchestrated … especially the variation from piece to piece, the integration of traditional instruments, and the sound of the traditional Chinese musical culture. I think the American audience will love it, as we do during the rehearsals in Detroit,” she told Xinhua minutes before the start of the concert.
Parsons said that the Orchestra felt “honored” to be able to participate in the musical “collaboration between China and the United States,” and to work with “an outstanding composer” from China.
“This is the first one, and we hope there will be more activities,” she noted.
Ye, 58, received a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in the early 1990s, and has since established himself as one of the leading composers in China, currently serving as vice president of the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
“It feels great to see the American audience enjoy my music,” said Ye. “Symphony is like a universal language in the cultural world, and I have always hoped to spread the mainstream culture of modern China in this unique language.”
“I also believe that modern Chinese musicians should and can do a better job in telling the ‘China Story’ with and integrating ‘Chinese elements’ into the Western music,” said the 2012 Guggenheim Award winner.[db:内容2]