Concert brings Chinese folk music to Chicago

A traditional Chinese music band gave a 2,000-strong audience an incomparable taste of Chinese folk music on Sunday at the Chicago Symphony Center.

The Chinese New Year concert started with a joyous musical piece of "Spring Festival Prelude," which pieced together some folk music that is familiar to most Chinese, such as "Moonlit River in Spring" and "Dance of the Golden Snake," and concluded with a newly composed piece called "Silk Road."

Soprano Juliet Petrus sang a folk song from the northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang in the Chinese language. The song, together with her Xinjiang folk dance, drew waves of applause.

Petrus told Xinhua that she has been singing Xinjiang folk songs and practicing Xinjiang folk dance since 2012. She made her debut in Beijing and has performed in many places all over the world.

Virtuoso of traditional Chinese Banhu, Jiang Kemei, and cellist Katinka Kleijn jointly presented "Why Are the Flowers So Red," a famous soundtrack from a well-known Chinese film in the 1960s.

"New Song of the Herdsmen," a tune played with bamboo flute, led the minds of the audience into the vast grasslands of Inner Mongolia, which features beautiful scenery and vitality of the people living there.

When the tune of "Oh Susanna, Don't You Cry For Me" came up, many Americans sang along, clapping their hands to the beat.

"It is a wonderful concert, I love the variety of the music and different sounds," Steve Robinson, general manager of WFMT Radio Network, told Xinhua. He said he was particularly impressed by the performance of traditional Chinese musical instruments such as Sheng and Erhu.

Shen Yiwei and Tong Shuqing, who have been in the United States for five years, told Xinhua that they have been listening to most of the musical pieces since they were children, and have even practiced some in childhood. It feels as if "the old memories came back," they said.

"We hope to continue celebrating the Chinese New Year here in Chicago. To keep this celebration going, that is our plan," said Director of Chicago Symphony Center James Fahey.

Zhang Yu, board chairman and president of China Arts and Entertainment Group, which has organized the Chinese band, said that it is his goal to bring top-brand Chinese music to world-famous music halls.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuelsaid Chinese New Year celebrations in the city make the city unique and help attract visitor from across the world.

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