China Now Music Festival introduces audiences to contemporary Chinese music

World Today

China Now Music Festival introduces audiences to contemporary Chinese music

The U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College-Conservatory of Music in New York hosts an annual event meant to introduce the audience to contemporary Chinese music.

At a time when political tensions are running high, the event hopes to highlight the strong cultural ties between the two nations. CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.

The China Now Music Festival kicked off with two nights of performances at Carnegie Hall in New York.

The musical highlight was this piece titled “From the Middle Kingdom to the Wild West.”

Composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Zhou Long, it was a musical ode to the roughly 20,000 Chinese laborers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad completed 150 years ago.

Part of the goal of the festival is to highlight the contributions Chinese have made in the U.S., but it is also meant to introduce wider audiences to contemporary Chinese music.

The theme of this year’s festival is China and America – Unity in Music. It’s in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China in 1979.

Conductor and artistic director Jindong Cai says the arts can play a pivotal role in fostering good relations.

“For the relationship between the U.S. and America – when you look at only from political point of view, what you see is conflict. You see conflicts everywhere. But when you look into the relationship from a cultural view, from tradition – you see the connections,” Jindong Cai, artistic director of the China Now Music Festival, said.

Another piece was a multi-media production on the life of Wellington Koo, a diplomat from the early 20th century who helped open China to the world.

His stepdaughter, who produced the piece, said he was bridge builder who believed a relationship with the West and the United States, in particular, was of utmost importance.

Shirley Young, Producer of “Wellington Koo the Diplomat,” said, “We’re really trying to touch people’s hearts and remember deeply, emotionally what it is that makes us connected.”