Program Notes | 2022 Lunar New Year Celebration

2022 Lunar New Year Celebration
By Patrick Chamberlain ©2022

The celebration of a new year seems a little bit harder these days when time runs together in a seemingly recurring loop of fear and optimism. Weren’t we just at NJPAC together celebrating the Year of the Rat in February 2020? And yet, your New Jersey Symphony is back on stage once again as we mark the new Year of the Tiger with Music Director Xian Zhang’s signature programming blend of festive classics, Chinese traditional music and a few surprises up her sleeve as always.

Symphony Assistant Conductor Tong Chen makes her Lunar New Year debut, sharing the podium at Xian’s invitation. Together, they’ve crafted a program that will delight and inspire. As is our tradition, we kick off the evening with Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture, a 1956 work depicting the celebration of the Spring Festival, or New Year. A compact and joyous expression of exuberance, listeners may note similarities with the folk-influenced works of Copland or Dvořák.

From there, we revel in the remarkable talents of Chelsea Guo, who dazzles with the pianistic poetry and pyrotechnics of Chopin’s Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, sings the brilliant coloratura of Mozart’s Alleluia and then combines her musical powers by playing and singing the traditional “Jasmine Flower,” which Puccini memorably used in his opera Turandot.

Our beloved choral collaborators of the Starry Arts Group Children’s Chorus and Peking University Alumni Chorus bring all their enthusiasm to on-screen performances this year. Our evening comes to a close with Xian’s homage to another new year tradition with the fizz and pop of Viennese polkas.

As we usher in the new Year of the Tiger, this concert encapsulates much of what we hope for in the months to come at the Symphony—a belief in the talent, power and potential of our young people; a commitment to authentic celebration of the rich mosaic of cultures in New Jersey, and a faith that, when things are uncertain and hope a bit harder to come by, a little music can go a long way. Happy New Year!

Patrick Chamberlain, Vice President of Artistic Planning


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