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Shenzhen Symphony headed to Seattle

(China Daily ) Updated: 2015-02-20 12:12


Pianist Yin Chengzong

One of China's finest orchestras, the Shenzhen Symphony, will visit Seattle on Feb 25 for a Chinese New Year concert, bringing classical music and Chinese artistic traditions.

The 2015 Chinese New Year Concert, featuring the Shenzhen orchestra, in collaboration with the Seattle Symphony and Stanford University, will be playing at Benaroya Hall to celebrate the Lunar Chinese New Year.

The concert will feature legendary pianist Yin Chengzong, Chinese pipa virtuoso Zhao Cong and conductor Jindong Cai.

"Many people do not know that this is the very first time, a symphony from China come to Seattle and the debut of the Shenzhen Symphony in North America," Austin Huang, producer of the Chinese New Year concert and president of the Pacific Northwest Cultural Exchange Council, told China Daily.

"In the past, we only saw Western orchestras touring around China, now we eye-witness the vice versa," Huang said. "So, this is historical. And symphony is well accepted by the western audiences without language barriers as other arts may have. So through this concert, American audiences will have a much better direct view of current China's social, economic and cultural development."

Huang named pianist Yin Chengzong as one of the reasons this concert is a must-see. Yin He was the original soloist for the Yellow River piano concerto and the authentic interpreter for the meaning of each bar of the music notes.

"I have performed around the United States in the past 32 years; I hope I can have my recital in Seattle in the near future," Yin told China Daily, adding that he was excited about his first trip to Seattle.

Born in Xiamen, Fujian province, Yin began learning piano in 1948 when he was 7 years old and gave his first recital at the age of 9. He studied piano in the preparatory school of Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 1962, he took second place at the International Tchaikovsky Competition.

Although trained as a classical pianist, he is perhaps best known in the West through the Yellow River Piano Concerto he arranged, based on the Yellow River Cantata and performed in many Western theaters since the 1980s. Yin will be performing Yellow River at the event.

Cai joined the Stanford faculty in 2004 as the first Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies chair. He has held positions as assistant conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, working closely with conductors Jsus Lpez-Cobos, Erich Kunzel and Keith Lockhart.

Zhao Cong plays the ancient Chinese pipa, a four-stringed instrument sometimes referred to as the Chinese lute. She won her first important award at 13. Zhao was later recruited as first pipa soloist of the Central Orchestra for Chinese Music in Beijing and has toured in more than 20 countries and performed for a dozen heads of state.

Huang sees the Chinese New Year Concert as a turning point for Chinese music, Seattle, and Chinese and American cultural interactions.

Huang also believes the concert holds cultural significance as a chance for American audiences to better understand the Chinese culture.

"I am confident the concert will be a success because Western-style symphonies have played Chinese symphonic music in Seattle before, and it was well received," Huang said.

The Pacific Northwest Cultural Exchange Council organized A Colorful Musical Journey concert at Benaroya Hall in April 2013, featuring local Chinese-American composer Austin Huang. The cultural council from the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco attended the concert and was impressed with the exchange council's work and with Benaroya Hall. Huang introduced the orchestra to the Pacific council.

The Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of orchestra President Chen Chuansong and music director Christian Ehwald, was founded in 1982 and has built up a major classical repertoire at home and abroad over three decades.

This time the orchestra will come with about 90 people, which is a full orchestra with woodwind, brass, percussion and string. Shenzhen also will perform at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and in San Jose and San Diego.  



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