Fu Xi invented the Qin, Nü Wa invented the Xiao, and Ling Lun made the Di with bamboo from the Kunlun Mountain. The vast and rich land of China has not only nourished generations after generations of descendants of Yan Emperor and Yellow Emperor, but also given birth to the ancient and profound Chinese civilization. For thousands of years we carry on the heartbeat and pulse of our ancestors. This unceasing pulsation of life, like the beating of drums, constitutes the original rhythm of the Chinese music. In ancient music like Yunmen, Xianchi, Xiaoshao, Daxia, Dahu, and Dawu, our ancestors have written the history and glory of the Chinese people into music, connecting, with music as the bridge, heaven and earth, the ancient and the modern. Music has always been a vital spiritual bond of the Chinese nation, incessantly carrying on the cultural bloodline of Chinese descendants.
As a home-grown orchestra in China, China NCPA Orchestra has always seen it as its duty, and pride, to carry forward and promote Chinese music culture through music. In the “Sounds of China” series of the 2021-2022 Season, we will work in varied ways with virtuosos of Chinese traditional instruments, and will stage many outstanding Chinese works that include well-known timeless classics as well as innovative contemporary works.
Through historic classics, we will look back on the unyielding perseverance of the Chinese people when they were fighting invaders. We will go back to those heroic and tumultuous ages as we immerse ourselves in Bright Sheng’s Nanking! Nanking! - A Threnody for Orchestra and Pipa, XIAN Xinghai's Yellow River Cantata, and Piano Concerto The Yellow River, and Julian Yu’s Raging Flames.
As for contemporary music, we will see how composers such as Chou Wen-chung, Qigang Chen, ZHOU Long, TAN Dun, CHEN Xinruo, and YAO Chen, fuse modern music elements with Chinese music traditions. They express the thoughts and ideas of the modern Chinese literati in music, and bring the sounds of China to reverberate around the global stage. In addition, The Butterfly Exchange composed by HUANG Ruo, which is jointly commissioned by NCPAO, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Theater und Philharmonie Essen GmbH will be premiered in this season.
Meanwhile the 6th NCPA Young Composer Programme will present its final evaluation and awards concert in this season. These new works composed by young composers will be performed by China NCPA Orchestra, transforming them from lines after lines of abstract symbols on paper into real sound of music on stage. As an active participant and facilitator of the NCPA Young Composer Programme, China NCPA Orchestra is making great efforts to empower the new generation of Chinese composers, and it is also witnessing the progress of Chinese music into the future.
ZHAO Jiping, as the orchestra's Composer-in-Focus for two seasons since last year, composed numerous outstanding compositions during his career. Last season, his Violin Concerto No. 1, Moments Musicaux of the Silk Road, and Symphonic Suite Qiao’s Grand Courtyard were successfully performed. In this season, we will continue to present his Guanzi Concerto The Silkroad Fantasia Suite, Pipa Concerto No. 2, Red Star Over China, and Sacred Cloud Music. What is more, The Story of Hua’er, a Cantata written by ZHAO Jiping who persists in composing over the age of 70, will be premiered in the 2021/22 season.
Since the Zhou Dynasty, ancient Chinese have categorized their music instruments into “eight sounds”: bronze, stone, earth, leather, string, wood, calabash, and bamboo. From this we know that at least 2,000 years ago Chinese musicians had already mastered the arts of making and performing many types of instruments. Passed down and built up over the centuries till today, Chinese traditional music and instruments have become an amazing treasure trove of art. In this season, ZHANG Qiang, CHEN Leiji, LU Yiwen, and HAN Lei, among other renowned artists will appear in the “Sounds of China” series with their Pipa, Guqin, Erhu, and Guanzi. They will present ancient songs like Birds Singing in a Desolated Mountain, and Swans on the Shoal, and folk music The Jasmine Flower and Sunshine on Tashkurgan, as well as modern pieces like Fiddle Suite, for Huqin and String Orchestra and Waltz in Summer Palace. We expect brilliance and glows from the diversified fusion of Chinese traditional instruments, orchestra and chamber ensembles.