UN hosts concert to celebrate Lunar New Year for first time
Updated 15:34, 10-Feb-2019
By Hong Yaobin
01:10

‍For the first time, United Nations headquarters has celebrated the Spring Festival or Chunjie in Chinese – the most important holiday for the global Chinese community – by hosting a Lunar New Year concert.

Suzhou Symphony Orchestra from east China's Jiangsu Province staged the concert at the UN General Assembly Hall on Friday evening.

Suzhou Symphony Orchestra performs during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Suzhou Symphony Orchestra performs during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Conducted by renowned music master Chen Xieyang, the orchestra showcased a fusion of Chinese national music and Western symphonic music, along with a medley of modern and traditional works.

In a speech before the concert, the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces stressed the "power of arts" as it transcends the boundaries of different nations and civilizations.  

The 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces (front) speaks prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

The 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces (front) speaks prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

She expressed gratitude that China brought the joyful atmosphere and the carnival spirit of the Chinese New Year to "the heart of the UN."

Well-known Chinese folk songs, including "Jasmine Flower" and "Dance Song of the Yao Tribe," were featured in addition to classic pieces by J. Strauss Jr and Tchaikovsky.

Music full of festive elements such as "The Spring Festival Overture" were also performed in celebration of the Chinese New Year. 

Conductor Chen Xieyang is pictured during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Conductor Chen Xieyang is pictured during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Young, global orchestra showcases traditional Chinese culture

Amidst the upbeat tempo and cheerful melody, the concert sent Chinese festive vibes into every corner of the hall.

Elliot Downey, an associate director of admissions with Tianjin Juilliard School, said the highlight of the evening for him was the Erhu performance, which was his first time hearing the traditional Chinese instrument.

A musician plays the Erhu during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

A musician plays the Erhu during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Greek deputy UN envoy Dionyssios Kalamvrezos said he was brought back to his "good old days" in China when he worked in Beijing from 2011 to 2014. "The first part of the concert, mostly Chinese music, evoked my attachment to China. I love the Chinese language. I love Chinese culture."

The orchestra was established in late 2016. The young team, however, has performed in several countries including France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan, according to its director Chen Guangxian.

Suzhou Symphony Orchestra performs during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Suzhou Symphony Orchestra performs during the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at UN headquarters in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

He added that the orchestra, based in China's eastern city of Suzhou, is very young and international, as its 70 members hail from 20 countries and regions, with an average age of 30.

Aside from the symphony, iSuzhou, a digital platform by the municipal government, has been holding an exhibition at the UN General Assembly lobby depicting the culture of Chinese Lunar New Year as well as a historical and modern Suzhou.

(With input from Xinhua)

(Cover: Suzhou Symphony Orchestra stages the Chinese Lunar New Year concert at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York, February 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo)