Classical orchestra gets the Chinese touch at Kennedy Center

China 24

“The Song of the Earth” is renowned as one of the greatest symphonies by Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, and it’s recently seen a Chinese touch-up at the Kennedy Center of Washington, D.C.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Classical orchestra gets the Chinese touch at Kennedy Center

Classical orchestra gets the Chinese touch at Kennedy Center

“The Song of the Earth” is known as one of the greatest symphonies of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. Recently, it has been given some Chinese touch-up. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.
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The German lyrics written by Mahler more than a 100 years ago were based on 8th century Tang Dynasty poetry. However, instruments used to perform them have been exclusively Western, until now.

Conductor Tang Muhai has re-orchestrated the composition to include Chinese instruments.

“It sounds simply more orient, more Chinese. If Mahler lived even today, if he had so a chance, to either listen, look, or even come to touch these Chinese instruments, what could he think and do. For me, it’s like I try to go fulfill his dream,” Tang said.

Tang’s unique re-composition is being performed for the first time in the U.S. by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The Kennedy Center also commissioned a new version of Huang Ruo’s “Wind Blows,” for oboe and orchestra.

“To me, music is not just painting a picture or, let’s say I’m sad or I’m happy, but sometimes it’s everything,” Wang Liang, principal oboist of New York Philharmonic said.

The 36-year-old Chinese-American is collaborating with the Beijing Symphony for the Lunar New Year performance.

“I was raised in China, and I move to America when I was 14. It’s a wonderful feeling for me because it’s almost like playing for the home team,” Wang said.

Wang also said the wind sound transports the audience to the landscapes of Inner Mongolia or whatever else they imagine.

“We hope that this can be a means by which people can understand better Chinese people on a different basis, not what they read in the newspapers every day, but really just on a person to person basis, and not only kind of food and fireworks and fun, but also a little bit more about Chinese culture,” Yang Xue Lan, the head of the U.S.-China Culture Institute said.

It’s no coincidence that events like this are happening outside of Chinatowns across the U.S. It’s part of an orchestrated effort by the Chinese government to bring Chinese culture to more people. The performance that night took place in front of a full house.