On the evening of November 5th, the NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts) Orchestra performed on stage for the first time at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall under the leadership of the music director LÜ Jia. Luan Tan, an orchestra partita created by composer CHEN Qigang, was performed again; the pipa performer WU Man took the lead in performing American composer Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and String Ensemble. In the second half of the concert, the orchestra played Johannes Brahms's Symphony No. 4 in E minor, a representative work of Brahms's late years, bringing the audience a music experience that was brilliantly-mixed with Chinese and Western cultures.
NCPA Orchestra premiered in US west coast
San Francisco is the fifth stop of the NCPA's six-city U.S. tour this autumn. It is the first time for the NCPA to step on the ground of the west coast of America, and it is also the NCPA's first return visit at the invitation of the San Francisco Orchestra, which had visited Beijing twice before. The concert that night was held at San Francisco Orchestra's home venue - the grand Davies Symphony Hall and it was part of the San Francisco Orchestra' s 2017/18 Concert Season.
Pipa performer WU Man
San Francisco is America's second largest gathering place of ethnic Chinese, thus there are a large number of local audience who have been long expecting the China NCPA Orchestra's concert to arrive in their beloved city. And NCPA's performers are also excited about the first performance in the west coast. Chief violinist ZHUANG Ran, who once studied in California, said, “it has been three years since our North America Tour 2014. The orchestra has become more practiced; we are more in tune with each other and more adaptive to various sound effects.” The second violinist LIU Xian also said, “the sound effect of Davies Symphony Hall is excellent; it is fit for performing and different voice parts can be heard clearly.”
China NCPA Orchestra's conductor laureate CHEN Zuohuang came to the rehearsal
During the rehearsal that afternoon, the China NCPA Orchestra's conductor laureate CHEN Zuohuang came to see the rehearsal and said with emotion, “30 years ago, for the first time, I led the China National Symphony Orchestra in giving a historical visiting performance to America. At that time, we were under huge pressure, and the mainstream media there encouraged and welcomed the Chinese orchestra with open arms. Nowadays, it is not encouragement anymore, instead, they listen earnestly to our playing, thinking over what new elements the Chinese orchestras will contribute to the growth of the world symphony. For example, CHEN Qigang's works and the concerto the American composer created for pipa, which were unimaginable in the past. Over the last three decades, though there are twists and turns and also pitfalls in the development of China's symphony, it has grown so fast. If using 30-year as a measure to examine the development of a country's symphony development, China is definitely not in the shade, and I am proud of it.”
The Orchestra brought the audience a music experience brilliantly-mixed with Chinese and Western cultures
In the show that night, Luan Tan, the first orchestra partita, which had taken composer CHEN Qigang four years to produce, was performed yet again. An American audience said, “I like very much the form of expression of the Chinese percussion instruments in Luan Tan. The elements of Beijing Opera makes it sound very Chinese.” In the second half, Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and String Ensemble touched a string of the audience. In the opinion of pipa performer WU Man, “for the western audience, this music work is suitable for initial appreciation. Many local people have never seen a pipa performance before; they would find it very interesting, especially the combination of a string instrument and pluck instrument. And, the Chinese audience would also feel fresh since it exceeds their expectations for the pipa. It is very interesting to experience the integration and resonance of two cultures in the aspects of music.” In the second half, under the leadership of conductor LÜ Jia, the orchestra played Johannes Brahms's most fervid and dramatic Symphony No. 4 in E minor. The music director of NCPA Orchestra LÜ Jia has a special feeling for this music work, “it is one of the programmes of my first show as a professional conductor in Europe, and it was held in Hamburg - Brahms's homeland. The performance was a complete success. Many years have passed, now as we perform this music work in San Francisco in the west coast of America, it is still so moving.”
The whole performance was concluded successfully with encore programmes of Johannes Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 6 and BAO Yuankai's Zi Zhu Diao. Afterwards, the NCPA Orchestra will take the stage on November 7th (local-time) in Ann Arbor, the last stop of its U.S. tour 2017, to bring "Chinese sounds" to local audiences.