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Bard Conservatory's US-China Music Institute to Present Fifth Annual China Now Music Festival in October

China Now Music Festival will run from October 7 to 22.

Bard Conservatory's US-China Music Institute to Present Fifth Annual China Now Music Festival in October

The US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music, in collaboration with China's Central Conservatory of Music, announces the fifth season of the China Now Music Festival, from October 7 to 22. The festival's concerts will take place at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, Hudson Hall at the Historic Hudson Opera House, and Lincoln Center in New York City.

The China Now Music Festival is dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of music from contemporary China through an annual series of concerts and academic activities. This year's festival will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an unprecedented program featuring three uniquely curated concerts that will trace how generations of artists from China and the West have influenced and inspired each other through musical expression.

"Our theme, 'East of West,' seeks to reveal differences in culture and tradition that have historically divided East from West-only to break them down and, through our artistic experience, create something new that belongs to both East and West," says China Now Music Festival Artistic Director Jindong Cai.

Cai will lead The Orchestra Now, the Orchestra of New Asia CMS, the Bard Chinese Ensemble, and guest performers in three programs over three weekends. The festival's repertoire will include the US premieres of selections from Guo Wenjing's critically acclaimed opera Rickshaw Boy, Hao Weiya's chamber opera Painted Skin, Ye Xiaogang's second symphony The Great Wall, and symphonic works by Jiang Wen-ye and Huang Anlun. Also featured are compositions by Aaron Avshalomov and Alexander Tcherepnin, two Western composers who lived in China in the early 20th century. Featured artists include world-renowned Kunqu opera singer Qian Yi, award-winning vocalists tenor Li Yi; sopranos Deng Manli and Lucy Fitz Gibbon; coloratura soprano Holly Flack; mezzo-soprano Kristin Gornstein; pianists Ju Xiaofu and Xu Fangfang; and opera director Michael Hofmann.

The first concert program, "Tales from Beijing," will be performed October 7 at Bard's Fisher Center and October 9 at the Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center. The concert will open with Hutongs of Peking by Aaron Avshalomov, a Russian-born Jewish-American composer who lived in China for 30 years beginning in 1918, and became a leading figure in pioneering modern Chinese music. Written in 1931 and premiered in 1933, Hutongs of Peking is a symphonic poem of old Beijing that lovingly depicts the sounds of Beijing's ancient alleyways-morning temple bells, the calls of street vendors, the lyrical strains of Peking Opera, the mournful cacophony of funeral drums-before finally transporting us back to the tranquility of the ancient city. This will be followed by four selections from the opera Rickshaw Boy, specifically chosen and adapted by the composer Guo Wenjing for this concert performance to showcase the grand symphonic, dramatic and lyrical nature of the opera and the tragic romance of the rickshaw puller Xiangzi, sung by Yi Li, and Huniu, sung by Manli Deng. In the concert's second half, we will hear composer Ye Xiaogang's Symphony No. 2, The Great Wall. This large-scale work for piano, voice, Chinese instruments, and symphony orchestra is inspired by the idea of the Great Wall as a magnificent physical and spiritual symbol of the Chinese nation. The symphony is divided into nine movements, drawing on folk music of the many ethnic groups who live along the Great Wall from the foothills of Beijing to the Western region of China. The symphony is intended to create a deep and broad soundscape that spans time and space and will feature a young pianist from Juilliard, Xiaofu Ju, with renowned New York-based soloists on erhu,pipa, dizi and morin khuur (horse-head fiddle).

The second concert program, "Painted Skin," will take place on October 13 at Hudson Hall, the historical opera house in Hudson, New York, and October 15 at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center. It features the US premiere of Painted Skin, a chamber opera based on a ghost story by the early 18th century Qing Dynasty author Pu Songling, which was originally published in Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. Pu's story is about a demon who presents herself as a beautiful woman; if she can capture the heart of a young (and happily married) scholar, she will be able to permanently assume human form. In this performance of Hao's opera, co-produced by the US-China Music Institute and the Central Conservatory of Music and conceived by Michael Hofmann, the story is transported to a contemporary American college setting. All three roles-the demon, the professor, and his wife- are performed by women. Mezzo-soprano Kristin Gornstein, who plays the professor, and coloratura soprano Holly Flack, who plays the professor's wife, will both sing entirely in Chinese. The Kunqu opera singer Qian Yi-who first came to the attention of American audiences with her star performance in Lincoln Center's 1999 staging of the 19-hour opera Kunqu opera Peony Pavilion-plays the demon.

The third concert program, "Journey to the East," will take place on October 22 in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. The first half of the concert will include the concert version of a rarely performed work, The Nymph and the Farmer, a 35-minute, one-act chamber opera on Chinese themes by composer Alexander Tcherepnin. The opera, based on an old Chinese folk tale, is sung in French with English and Chinese subtitles and features American soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon as the nymph and Chinese tenor Yi Li as the farmer. Tcherepnin taught at the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1930s and nurtured the early generation of Chinese composers, including Jiang Wenye, the composer whose works are featured in the second half of this concert, beginning with Taiwan Dance, which is perhaps the most representative of Jiang's works. The next work is the third movement of a piano concerto composed by Jiang in 1964 which had been lost during the cultural revolution and was only recently discovered. The movement is called Rooster Crowing in the Rain-Recalling Past Valor (Xu Beihong's Color-and-Ink Paintings). The concerto is dedicated to Fangfang Xu-who will perform it for us with The Orchestra of New Asia CMS-and was inspired by the art of her father Xu Beihong, the renowned Chinese painter. Images of Xu's paintings will accompany his daughter's performance. The program will conclude with the world premiere of Capriccio Xu Beihong which was commissioned by the festival and written by Chinese-Canadian composer Huang Anlun. This closing concert is dedicated to Alexander Tcherepnin and Xu Beihong, who sought throughout their lives to connect East and West through their art and simultaneously nurtured generations of artists who did the same.

For more information about the China Now Music Festival and for full programming details, visit


October 7 at 8 pm 'Tales from Beijing' at the Fisher Center at Bard College:
Tickets start at $20 ($5 tickets for Bard students are made possible by the Passloff Pass)
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Monday-Friday 10 am-5 pm
By Phone: 845-758-7900 Monday-Friday from 10 am-5 pm

October 9 at 3 pm 'Tales from Beijing' and October 15 at 7:30 pm 'Painted Skin' at Jazz at Lincoln Center:
Tickets: $25, $50, $75, $100
Broadway at 60th Street, Ground Floor
Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm; Sunday 12 pm-6 pm
By Phone: CENTERCHARGE 212-721-6500

October 13 at 7 pm 'Painted Skin' at Hudson Hall, Hudson, NY:
Tickets: $25/$45 ($10 student price with ID)
Box Office: 327 Warren St, Hudson, NY 12534
Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday-Sunday 12pm-5pm
By phone: (518) 822-1438

October 22 at 7:30 pm 'Journey to the East' at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center:
Tickets: $25, $50, $75
Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm; Sunday 12 pm-6 pm
By Phone: CenterCharge 212 721 6500


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