NY Philharmonic celebrates New Year
For the fifth year in a row, the New York Philharmonic celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year with pieces by Chinese composers and a work inspired by China at Lincoln Center in New York on Tuesday night.
This year’s program primarily featured the New York premiere of award-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Nvshu: The Secret Songs of Women, a symphony for harp, 13 micro films, and orchestra (2013), performed by principal harpist Nancy Allen.
The production reflects the composer’s interest in the moving image, sound and history and crafts a multimedia anthropological study of a disappearing language and phonetic script exclusive to women from Tan’s native Hunan province.
The composer collected more than 200 hours of field recordings, which include the vanishing stories and sounds of nvshu and its women. Each of the 13 movements focuses on a different microfilm created from these recordings.
Tan’s choice of the harp reflects not only what he considers the instrument’s feminine sound and its style of playing (which evokes the women of nvshu), but also its distinct physical shape, which is similar to one of nvshu’s calligraphic characters.
“The slow disappearance of the nvshu tradition and culture has troubled me for many years,” Tan said. “I wanted to do the field research, anthro-musicological studies, collect the songs of nvshu and eventually compose a new symphonic concerto piece for the world and for my home village, to continue the tradition and to create a future from the past.”
“It’s absolutely fantastic. We are so lucky to hear Tan Dun’s nvshu tonight in New York,” said audience member Wendy Fawcus “This one ( nvshu) is so melodic and so beautiful with the sounds of water coming through the music,” She added.
“It’s wonderful. The last work by Tan Dun is very powerful and beautiful,” said Marco Granados, a flutist from New York.
The concert also featured Maxim Vengerov performing the classical Chinese piece The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto and Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois.
The Spring Festival Overture, Chinese composer Li Huanzhi’s traditional work celebrating the Chinese New Year, was once again used to open the concert.
Yu Long, musical director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, returned to the Philharmonic to do the honors.
To salute the Year of the Monkey, the philharmonic also held a free outdoor event in the afternoon before the concert at Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza featuring the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company performing the traditional dragon dance, as well as public school students from the National Dance Institute performing folkinspired dances.
United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Liu Jieyi and Chinese Consul General in New York Zhang Qiyue attended the gala.
The Starr International Foundation sponsored the event. A portion of the proceeds will help fund the philharmonic’s programs at PS 120 in Flushing, Queens, an elementary school attended by a large population of Chinese-Americans and recent immigrants from China.
Chinese composer Tan Dun takes a bow after the New York premiere of his work Nvshu:TheSecretSongsofWomen, a symphony for 13 micro films, harp and orchestra at the concert ChineseNewYearCelebrationTheYearoftheMonkey presented by the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center in New York on Tuesday night.