US-China Music Institute Of The Bard College Conservatory Presents First China Now Music Festival
The US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music announces the inaugural season of the China Now Music Festival, October 19-22. The festival's concerts take place at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City. The festival is dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of music from contemporary China through an annual series of concerts and academic activities. The theme of the 2018 China Now Music Festival is Facing the Past, Looking to the Future: Chinese Composers in the 21st Century. All concerts feature Bard College's The Orchestra Now, conducted by Jindong Cai, artistic director of the China Now Music Festival and director of the US-China Music Institute.
The creation of the China Now Music Festival, according to Cai, was inspired by the richness and vitality of music in Chinese society: "Western classical music is developing in China at phenomenal speed, but just as exciting is the freshness that Chinese composers bring to the Western world. With the China Now Music Festival as our looking glass, we hope to bring people and cultures from East and West together through music."
The festival is part of Bard's partnership with the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, through its five-year Chinese Music Development Initiative. Seven composers from the distinguished faculty of the Central Conservatory have been commissioned to compose new works that will receive their world premieres during the festival.
The opening concert, on Friday, October 19 at 8:00 p.m. at Bard's Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, includes world premieres of two works by composers from the Central Conservatory of Music. The concert also includes the U.S. premiere of Chen Yi and Zhou Long's Humen 1839, and Ye Xiaogang's My Faraway Nanjing for cello and orchestra.
The festival will present two concerts in New York City: October 21 at 3:00 p.m. in Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall and October 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.
The Lincoln Center concert is focused on how Chinese composers have looked into the past. The program confronts three wrenching events in modern Chinese history: the first Opium War of 1839-42, the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, and what is now known as the "sent-down youth" movement during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.
The concert begins with the symphony Humen 1839 by Chen Yi and Zhou Long. The work is a musical portrait of the heroic effort to confiscate and burn imported opium. Ye Xiaogang's My Faraway Nanjing for cello and orchestra is dedicated to the 300,000 civilian victims killed in the Japanese invasion of Nanjing during World War II. Composer Tony Fok and writer Su Wei both lived through the chaotic period of the Cultural Revolution. They were among the more than 17 million urban Chinese youths sent down to the countryside to labor alongside farmers. This experience inspired their oratorio/cantata Ask the sky and the earth, featuring a chorus of more than 200 members from around the United States, some of whom were also among the "sent-down youth." This year marks the 50th anniversary of the movement.
The Carnegie Hall concert will look to the future with an exciting program consisting entirely of world-premiere compositions by the distinguished composition faculty of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. The Central Conservatory is the cradle of 21st-century Chinese composers. The festival will showcase seven new compositions: Guo Wenjing's Zang; Qin Wenchen's Rising; Li Binyang's Shattered Sun; Chen Xinruo's Yun Shao; Jia Guoping's Landscape; Tang Jianping's Concerto for Orchestra; and Chang Ping's Singularity.
In collaboration with the China Institute, the festival will hold a panel discussion on Saturday, October 20 from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the China Institute in New York City. Titled "Facing History: Musical Reflections on the Opium War, the Nanjing Massacre, and the Cultural Revolution," the panel will include composers Ye Xiaogang, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, and Tony Fok, writer Su Wei, and festival Artistic Director Jindong Cai. A light lunch will be served.
All concerts feature The Orchestra Now with Jindong Cai conducting. Soloists include cellist Tian Bonian, sopranos Chen Min and Huang Li, tenor Chen Dashuai, and bass-baritone Ding Gao. The China Now Music Festival Chorus will make its debut at the festival.
For more information about the China Now Music Festival, visit barduschinamusic.org/china-now-music-festival.