Chinese New Year with NZSO – Postcards from Exotic Places

You may be interested in these upcoming NZSO concerts to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Two dazzling young Chinese artists will star in the NZSO’s

Postcards from Exotic Places concerts celebrating the Chinese New Year in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The NZSO programme of popular

classics features Dvorak’s thrilling Symphony No 9, From the New World – one of the most popular symphonies ever written.

Hong Kong-born conductor Perry So will lead the orchestra. Only in his twenties, he is already set to become a classical music megastar.

Hewill be joined by 24 year-old violinist Tianwa Yang, whose performances in the US have excited both critics and audiences. A former child prodigy, Yang was described as “The Pride of China” when she was only 11 years old.

The concerts feature arias from Jack Body’s Alley opera, sung by Australian counter-tenor Jon Jackson, whose versatile voice has been said to be able to “wallow in the depths like Johnny Cash, growl like Eartha Kitt, purr like Peggy Lee and trill like Maria Callas”.

The NZSO is using the Chinese New Year as an opportunity to focus on China’s growing importance in the classical music world.

Postcards from Exotic Placestakes the form of a journey that will transport the audience from East to West, from the old world to the new.

The concert opens with Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng’s Postcards, which draw a series

of colourful pictures of a mystical, old-world Chinese landscape.

We move through a newer China with arias from Jack Body’s opera Alley – which is based on the life of the New Zealand-born teacher, social reformer and friend of China, Rewi Alley. From here we continue to the warmth of Spain and the piquant rhythms and melodies of Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole.

Our musical odyssey comes to a magnificent conclusion in America with Dvorak’s thrilling Symphony No. 9. The Czech composer was inspired by the local music he heard while working in America near the

end of the 19th century.

Postcards from Exotic Places is presented in association with Four Winds Foundation Limited.

*There will be a free pre-concert talk within the venue by composer Jack Body one hour before each concert.

Postcards from Exotic Places

A Chinese New Year concert

SHENG Postcards
I. From the Mountains
II. From the River Valley
III. From the Savage Lands
IV. Wish you were here
LALO Symphonie Espagnole
BODY Alley Arias
DVORAK Symphony No. 9 From the New World

Wellington / Michael Fowler Centre / Sat 29 Jan / 8pm
Book at TICKETEK 0800-842-538

Auckland / Town Hall / Tues 1 Feb / 7pm
Book at THE EDGE  0800-289-842

Christchurch / Town Hall / Thurs 3 Feb / 6.30pm
Book at TICKETEK 0800-842-538

Tickets start from $25. Booking fees apply

Fast Facts

  • Tianwa Yang started learning the violin at age four and could very quickly learn her music. She loved reading but her father thought she should focus most on her music practice. When young, she once tricked her father into believing she was practicing by playing her music while reading a book hidden inside the music on her music stand!

  • Tianwa Yang set a world record when she became the youngest-ever interpreter of the Paganini 24 Caprices, recording them at the age of 13.

  • Jack Body was inspired to write his Alley opera after a visit to China in the 80s, where he recognised that Rewi Alley was an iconic New Zealand adventurer of the same ilk as Sir Edmund Hillary.
  • Bright Sheng is the adopted name of the Chinese-born American composer, conductor and pianist Shèng Zōngliàng. The second syllable of Sheng’s given name, Liang, loosely translates as “bright lights”, which is why he took “Bright” as his English first name.

·Bright Sheng’s Postcards was commissioned by a couple in 1997 to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. They chose Sheng because his music reminded them of a wonderful trip to China they’d had. Says Sheng: “So I thought a selection of musical postcards from various places in China would be appropriate for the occasion. I based each of the four short movements on folk music styles from different regions in China.”

  • Chinese New Year in China is as important as Christmas is in the West. It’s about spending time with family and giving gifts, with food being an important feature

  • The upcoming Chinese New Year falls on February 3, 2011 and ushers in the Year of the Rabbit

  • Red underwear is a popular gift that couples give each other at Chinese New Year, as red is one of the luckiest colors in Chinese tradition. It stands for loyalty, success and happiness

  • At New Year it’s traditional to give Hong Bao, particularly to young people. These are red envelopes in which money is placed. The amount is usually in bills (not coins) and an even amount – multiples of eight are considered lucky
  • The main focus is on food. Chinese families will prepare their New Year meal for many days. If you’ve been invited to Chinese New Year festivities it’s a nice idea to bring your hosts food and drink. Focus on the colours red and gold for presentation
  • Many Chinese homes will place an upside-down character on their doors or windows at New Year. The character is fu, pronounced “foo”. It means fortune or luck has arrived
  • Chinese New Year festivities traditionally end with the Lantern Festival or Yuanxiao, which falls on the last or fifteenth day, and provides another reason for families to get together and have fun.

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

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