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Boston Hosts Chinese Spring Festival Gala

Updated: 2014-02-05
By Andrew Xing (chinadaily.com.cn)

Hosted by the Harvard Chinese Students and Scholars Association, the 2014 version extends far beyond self-entertainment. An intimate gathering of Grammy-winning and nominee musicians, such as Eugene Friesen and Sandeep Das, demonstrated the spirit of peace and love that is associated with the Spring Festival itself.

Rujing Huang is behind it all. The third-year PhD student in Harvard’s Music Department took up the directing role several months ago.

"What is unique about this year's Gala, as compared to ones held in previous years, is really the fact that we make it inclusive in every possible aspect, from the choice of MCs to the selection of performances to the diverse cultural and musical backgrounds that the performers come from, " Huang said. "I think only by initiating this kind of active cultural exchange can we start to know each other better and make Chinese New Year an occasion that is shared by audiences from East and West."

Chinese New Year 2014 unveils the world premiere of a new artistic adaptation of Berklee songwriting professor Mark Simos’ “The Great Waltz of China”, created for the 2014 Ivy League Spring Festival Gala.

"It's quite a pageant, all coming from this little humble folk tune that I wrote almost 30 years ago. For me, it's a combination of something that I have dreamed of for a long time, but I still can't quite believe it is happening," Simos told China Daily during rehearsal.

Simos composed the piece in 1985 as an instrumental waltz, inspired by a dancer’s whimsical pun. Beginning with Huang’s Chinese lyrics and English Poetic translation, the piece is evolving into a many-threaded intercultural collaboration across musical traditions of both East and West.

The Gala performance also features Berklee World Strings, directed and conducted by Grammy-winning cellist Friesen, performing Chinese composer Li Huangzhi’s famous “Spring Festival Overture”.

"Asia has not been very well represented in our repertoire, so I jumped at the chance to participate in this concert for the Lunar New Year," Friesen said after the concert. "ObviouslyChina is a very important friend and ally of theUS and I feel very lucky to be invited to this Gala."

Berklee-Harvard connections run through the Gala as a whole. Opening the show was jazz vocalist and recent Berklee alumna Huang Yun. Also performing is cellist Mike Block, with tabla maestro Sandeep Das – both members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.

Video: Andrew Xing


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