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Cool choir

By Chen Jie | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-13 07:45
Xiaoshuijing Farmers' Choir will perform at the Chinese New Year concert under the baton of Yu Long in New York on Feb 20. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"We used to sing as a way to relax or entertain ourselves after working in our fields. Around 2002, artists from outside found us and started to invite us to perform in Kunming, Guangzhou (Guangdong province) and Beijing," says Long.

Yu Long, who will conduct the concert in the United States, says: "I was deeply impressed by their voice. It was incredible that a group of farmers were singing hymns in the Miao language."

Last year, Yu invited the choir to perform at the closing gala of the Beijing Music Festival with the China Philharmonic Orchestra and Maxim Vengerov. On Dec 31, they also joined the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra to perform the New Year concert under the baton of Yu.

In New York, they will sing Beethoven's grand Choral Fantasy and Chinese folk song Flowing Stream.

Besides the farmers' choir, the Chinese New Year concert in New York will include another interesting work, Ricochet, featuring pingpong champions, violinists and percussionists.

Composed by American composer Andy Akiho, 38, the Pingpong Concerto premiered in Shanghai in 2015. It is a piece that commemorates the pingpong diplomacy between the US and China in the early 1970s that paved the way for then-US president Richard Nixon's visit to Beijing.

At the upcoming concert, New York Philharmonic violinist Elizabeth Zeltser and two real pingpong players, Michael Landers and Ariel Hsing, will stage Ricochet.

It is the seventh year that Yu is conducting the New York Philharmonic to play at a Spring Festival concert at the Lincoln Center. Yu has introduced a Chinese flavor each year: Pianist Lang Lang, boy and girl bands from the Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions, Peking Opera artist Wang Yan, Yo-Yo Ma, and contemporary composers such as Tan Dun.

"It has been an unusual experience to celebrate Spring Festival with Chinese artists and New York Philharmonic in New York for the last seven years. As a musician I feel honored and believe that it's meaningful to play with world-renowned orchestras," Yu says.

"Music goes beyond boundaries to help people communicate with each other. It's my way to promote Chinese culture," he adds.

Before New York, Yu will conduct the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra at a concert in Zurich on Feb 15, featuring Chinese composer Li Huanzhi's Spring Festival Overture, the best-known Chinese violin concerto Butterfly Lovers and Peking Opera symphony The Drunk Concubine.

After New York, he will visit London for a concert with the British Philharmonic Orchestra on March 1. The Xiaoshuijing Farmers' Choir will also sing at the London concert.

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