China National Traditional Orchestra: Keeping Ancient Instruments Alive
The Pride of China: A Lunar New Year Musical Experience
Chinese Music has come a long way ever since the opening up of China. Alongside an active performing arts program, China is keeping the spirit of its ancient traditional instruments alive. By developing wholesome stage shows such as this one, its rich library of music imitating sounds of nature has warmed and touched the lives of many in and outside of China.
At the beginning of each year, the Lunar New Year celebration is the culmination of what traditional instrumentalists have been working for over the past eleven months of the year; a celebration celebrated by its population of almost 1.4 billion people. It is also the time when its people make one of the most arduous journeys back home – a grand endeavor of the heart and the physical.
REDISCOVER CHINESE MUSIC 中央民族乐团大型民族乐剧《又见国乐》was streamed live on 15 Feb 2021 as part of China’s Spring Festival and also Lunar New Year celebration. Liusha, the conductor introduced the program with a poetic rendition: “Please allow us to unfold the mountains, the water, the dynasties and the music.” And it is such beginnings that the audience is invited into a subliminal discovery of how the merging of arts, traditional instruments, and literature can seamlessly combine.
With lavish costumes and operative-style performances of music from 1,500 years ago, the message traversed mountains and oceans across the Gobi desert.
Rediscover Chinese Music is the second grand Chinese national traditional musical performance presented by the China National Traditional Orchestra, with Xi Qiang as the producer, Wang Chaoge as the general director and screenwriter, and Jiang Ying as the composer and arranger.
The whole performance selects ten classic musical pieces of ancient and modern times, such as High Mountains and Flowing Water, A Moonlit Night on the Spring River, Ambush from All Sides, Reflections of the Moon on the Spring, Spring Festival Overture, and Yellow River. With an adaptation and recreation of these songs, the performance aims at bringing back the classics in the modern context and establishing them into modern classics.
The show opens with its first tune singing: “I am the high mountain, you are the flowing water, I am the music, you are the soul mate,” accompanied by LuNing on the guqin. It centers around the evolving storyline about Yu Boya and Ziqi surrounded by mist in the mountains.
Moving on, the story came to a stirring segment titled ‘Silk Road, West of Yang frontier’ where a trumpet-like Chinese instrument paired with a horizontal peipa performed with a bow. Displaying a poem written by Wang Wei almost 1,000 years ago.
The first interlude arrived with birdsongs filling the auditorium. Joined a moment later by the orchestra humming peacefully before the flute leads the overture back to a familiar rendition of longing for home.
Toward the end ‘Wild Goose’ was introduced with a pipa and then sung in unison by members of the performing arts troupe. It was all pomp and grandeur of the traditional orchestra that truly stood out. The costumes, the pride, the perfect production for the Chinese Lunar New Year. Another rendition by Liusha is sung before the curtain drops: “Your heart is turned into wine by music.”
China’s musical journey passed on aurally by classic poets was preserved over text written at first on papers. And especially for dance, has never veered too far from being used as a tool to bring the communities and their peoples together. Yixin, literally translated as one heart drives the psyche of its people a significant breed that would not die – their civilization goes far in the future – remembered for many years to come.
The China National Traditional Orchestra was founded in 1960 and is the world’s largest performance ensemble for Chinese traditional music, offering the most consummate repertoire. It combines an orchestra of traditional Chinese musical instruments with an accompanying folk choir and features many accomplished musicians. The orchestra is dedicated to promoting China’s folk music heritage of the past several thousand years around the world.
To watch the full performance, click here.
On 3 Feb 2022, The Orchestra celebrates the arrival of spring, the Lunar New Year and also for the realisation of dreams at the Winter Olympics by performing a Winter Olympics-theme Chinese New Year concert titled ‘Together For A Shared Future’. Watch here.