At various of the year, there is a new year celebration of some kind, whether it be the turning over of the Western calendar, or celebrating trees, the Jewish New Year, or the increasing popularity of celebrating the Chinese (Lunar) New Year.
On February 2 and 3, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra helped to ring in the Year of the Pig with a Chinese themed program that featured the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto.
With Kleinhans Music Hall decorated in red Chinese lanterns, the Confucius Institute at the University of Buffalo had tables filled with items representing Chinese culture including calligraphy, tea, and even a seven year old girl playing the yangqin.
Prior to the BPO performance inside the auditorium, the Confucius Institute and the Chines Club of Western New York presented a program of traditional dances and music in the Mary Seaton Room. The BPO performance began with a traditional Taiji fan dance before guest conductor Ken Lam took the podium to conduct the Aleksandr Borodin composition “In the Steppes of Central Asia”.
Award winning Chinese musician Yang Wei joined the BPO with his pipa for the performance of “The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto” by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao. Like Romeo and Juliet, these two lovers cannot be together and decided that the only way that they can be together is to become a pair of butterflies. Wei blended in with the Orchestra perfectly, as if he had always belonged there.Normally the Orchestra has four rehearsals for any given performance, but due to the winter storm that grounded airplanes, dropped tons of snow, and brought record low temperatures to the northern area of the nation; the BPO and gust performers had only three rehearsals in which to perfect their performance. And perfect them they did for an enjoyable evening/afternoon of music.
After the intermission, the BPO returned for a performance of the Igor Stravinsky composition “Le Chant du Rossignol” – “The Song of the Nightingale”. The composition is the story of a Chinese Emperor who loves nightingales. A Japanese envoy presented the Emperor with the gift of a mechanical nightingale that he played so much it broke down. When the Emperor becomes ill, the live nightingale returns and the Emperor is restored to health.
The program concluded with a fun and fast paced debut performance of “Folk Songs for Orchestra” by Huang Ruo.