Beijing: Hope, love, encouragement and inspiration are among the biggest takeaways from an uplifting virtual Lunar New Year reception and concert hosted by the Chinese embassy in the United States on Thursday.
“In a few hours, we will ring in the Year of the Ox,” said Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai at the 2021 Chinese New Year Online Reception and Symphony Concert streamed online Thursday evening local time.
“In the Chinese culture, the Ox symbolizes stamina, energy and dedication,” Cui said, adding he hopes that “we will show the spirit of the Ox and work together for a better shared future, for the Chinese and American people and people of the whole world.”
“I myself was born in the Year of Ox, so it will be my year,” said Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, in his video greetings.
“In this new year, in the spirit of the Ox, my national committee colleagues and I will continue to work hard in building U.S.-China dialogues and exchanges, and improving the bilateral relationship,” said Orlins, first in fluent Mandarin and then in English.
Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, said in his remarks that the Year of the Ox “has so much promise and is filled with opportunity for fresh beginnings.”
“We have an obligation to make the most of this precious opportunity and boldly work together toward a more fair, friendly and free world. This is within our grasp and we should not fail to achieve it,” said Allen.
The reception was followed by a concert presented by Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, which is based in southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, a landmark in the country’s reform and opening-up drive.
The orchestra opened the celebration with the jubilant Spring Festival Overture, composed by Li Huanzhi in the 1950s, which depicts the scene when people in China’s northwestern Shanxi province celebrate the Chinese New Year.
A recording of the overture was selected to be carried and broadcast into space on China’s first lunar probe, Chang’e 1, in 2007.
World-renowned violinist Ning Feng then gave a show-stopping rendition of Zigeunerweisen written in 1878 by the Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate. It’s one of the best-known violin works based on Hungarian folk melodies and Romani music motifs.
Antonin Dvorak’s 2nd movement of symphony No. 9, From the New World, was also rightly chosen by the Chinese orchestra for the occasion as so many people could hardly return home due to the pandemic interruptions.
Dvorak wrote the piece during the time he spent in the United States in the 1890s. His longing for home colored his music with mixed emotions.
The concert also featured violinist Amy Oshiro-Morales from the Philadelphia Orchestra and Japanese pianist Igarashi Kaoruko in a piano trio No. 1 in D Minor of Russian composer Anton Arensky with cellist Wu Zhen from Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra.
The music feast ended with Symphony Overture No.1 – The Passionate Years, a well-known piece composed by renowned Chinese composer Guan Xia. The piece pays homage to the pioneers who made great changes and devoted themselves to the development of China.
The concert’s programs were selected to send a message of reunion, gratitude and new begining in the spirit of the Chinese New Year tradition, said Zhao Haisheng, minister counselor for cultural affairs in the embassy, in an interview with Xinhua prior to the event.
“I think the values that are embodied in the celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, are 5Hs, that is ‘home, hope, health, harmony and happiness,'” Zhao said.
“These are universal values cherished by peoples around the world, that is a major reason why the Spring Festival is more and more popular in the U.S. and the world,” he said.
The concert was made possible because of the decades of fruitful culture and music exchanges between China and the West including the United States, the veteran diplomat noted.
“Chinese orchestras are introducing the best western classic music to China. They are bringing China’s best to the world. Music brings people together,” Zhao said.
Thursday’s event was part of a series of online Lunar New Year celebrations hosted by the Chinese embassy to mark the most important festival in China.
On Wednesday, the embassy staff members and the children from the embassy’s Sunshine School shared their own performances online. During the event, Mary Millben, prominent American and Hollywood Actress/Singer, extended her best greetings to China and the Chinese people with her remarkable singing “Let there be peace on Earth.”