China’s “Culture City” of Suzhou Showcases Arts & Heritage in NYC During Early Chinese New Year Celebration

China’s “Culture City” of Suzhou Showcases Arts & Heritage in NYC During Early Chinese New Year Celebration

China-U.S. Cultural Exchange in NYC Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Historic Visit

– Landmark concert & opening celebration at Lincoln Center features Philadelphia Orchestra commemorating groundbreaking 1973 China tour

–Suzhou Arts and Culture Festival held at China Institute

NEW YORK, Jan. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year, and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic 1973 tour of China, a weekend of activities highlighting Chinese art and culture took place in New York City on January 7 and 8, 2023. Headlining the events, a landmark concert performance at Lincoln Center was presented by iSING! Suzhou in partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra and featured interpretations of ancient Tang poems by artists from China, the United States, and more than 10 countries around the world. The next day, China Institute showcased arts from China’s “Culture City” of Suzhou during an afternoon of events that included live opera performance, storytelling, crafts, film, and other live interactive activities and workshops.

These events, part of the 2023 Happy Chinese New Year celebrations, were the first significant cultural exchange activity in the United States since China’s COVID policy optimization. It was also the first time that Chinese poetry written by literary masters from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) was sung in a mainstream Western art venue with the accompaniment of a world-class symphony orchestra, providing the audience with a multi-sensory experience where Eastern poems and Western music meet.

Speakers at the opening celebration at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center included:

His Excellency Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th United Nations General Assembly
His Excellency Ambassador Zhang Jun, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations
Mr. Huang Ping, Consul General of The People’s Republic of China in New York
Madame Jin Jie, Vice President of Suzhou People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
Matías Tarnopolsky, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc.
Approximately 125 dignitaries and other notable individuals from the U.S., China, and other countries attended the opening event, including Madame Martha Liao, President of the Asian Performing Arts Council.

Themed “Celebrating the Arts of China’s Culture City, Suzhou,” the weekend events were supported by the China International Culture Association, the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, and the Suzhou Municipal People’s Government, with partners including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Asian Performing Arts Council, China Institute, and Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre.

A statement from the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre, one of the main organizers of the event, said: “This series of weekend events celebrated a long and important history of cultural collaboration between the U.S. and China. The concert at Lincoln Center commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s groundbreaking 1973 tour of China, one of the most important cultural exchanges between our two countries. Sharing the arts of the 2,500-year-old ‘culture city’ of Suzhou is a powerful way to showcase Chinese cultural heritage, transcend borders, and connect people from different backgrounds. These events underscore not only long-standing cultural and artistic ties between China and the United States, but also an appreciation for people-to-people cultural exchange and ongoing communication between both countries.”

Key events over the weekend included:

SATURDAY, JANUARY 7
An opening VIP celebration followed by a concert performance titled “Echoes of the Ancient Tang Poems: iSING! Suzhou with The Philadelphia Orchestra” at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Presented by iSING! Suzhou with The Philadelphia Orchestra

SUNDAY, JANUARY 8
China Institute’s 2023 Chinese New Year Festival – Immerse In Suzhou Culture: Artist Performances, Cooking Classes, Films, Gallery Exhibition, And More

Various performances and activities included Lion Dancing, Storytelling Workshop, Dumpling Making, Suzhou Pingtan (musical performance), Suzhou Embroidery Workshop, artistic exhibits, and Kunqu Opera (musical performance).

Presented by China Institute and the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre

About iSING! Suzhou
With the support of Jiangsu Province, the city of Suzhou, and the Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou and Asian Performing Arts Council have hosted iSING! Suzhou for eight consecutive years since 2014. Talented vocal artists from all over the world are selected to participate in this program that offers intensive training in interpretation of standard Western repertoire and Chinese modern opera, Mandarin diction and language. Since its founding, more than 350 young singers from 38 countries have participated in the Festival, including more than 100 singers from the United States.

About the Concert
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Lunar New Year Concert at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ensemble’s historic 1973 tour of China, the first by an American orchestra, as well as the Orchestra’s ongoing relationship with the people of China. Over the past 50 years, the Orchestra has returned to China 12 times, more than any other U.S. orchestra. The Lunar New Year concert was the first of several upcoming events that will commemorate the milestone. The concert was a co-production of The Philadelphia Orchestra; the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre, which hosted the program’s world premiere in Suzhou, China, in late 2020; and the Asian Performing Arts Council (APAC). Prior to performing at Lincoln Center, the concert’s North American premiere took place at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall in Philadelphia on Friday, January 6.

This landmark program, led by former Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Conductor Lio Kuokman, featured settings of ancient Chinese Tang poem lyrical texts by young composers from more than 10 countries around the world. The production was the culmination of the 2020 iSING! Composition Competition, a five-month process of selecting winning composers from more than 200 entries. Tang dynasty poets featured in this program of works for voice and orchestra included Li Bai (Li Po), Bai Juyi, Du Fu, Du Mu, Zhang Ji, and Wang Bo, among others.

Interpreting these new settings of immortal Tang texts were 15 veterans of the pioneering iSING! Suzhou International Young Artists Festival, including two GRAMMY® winners (Wei Wu and Thomas Glenn) and a Broadway headliner (Raquel Suarez Groen).

About the Opening Celebration of Suzhou Culture
Approximately 125 dignitaries and other notable individuals from the U.S., China, and other countries attended a private reception before the concert at Alice Tully Hall. Speakers at the event included: His Excellency Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, His Excellency Ambassador Zhang Jun, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, Mr. Huang Ping, Consul General of The People’s Republic of China in New York, Madame Jin Jie, Vice President of Suzhou People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and Matías Tarnopolsky, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. The event also featured arts from Suzhou including Kunqu and Pingtan performances as well as an embroidery presentation.

About China Institute’s 2023 Chinese New Year Festival – Immerse in Suzhou Culture
Engaging and interactive showcases of Suzhou’s intangible cultural heritage offered a unique opportunity for audiences of all ages to experience Suzhou’s traditional culture, art, and techniques. Some of these included Pingtan, a talking and singing art that originated in Suzhou about 400 years ago; Kunqu Opera, which originated from Kunshan in Suzhou and is an old drama style listed as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001; and Suzhou embroidery, which dates back more than 2000 years and is considered an important handicraft, representative of Chinese traditional folk arts.

Pingtan songs included Night Mooring at Maple Bridge and Meet at Plum Pavilion performed by Mr. Chen Feng and Ms. Xie Ying, who are both distinguished young artists of the Suzhou Pingtan Performance Troupe. Chinese National award-winning Kunqu Opera actress, Ms. Shen Fengying and Ms. Shen Guofang gave performances of Kunqu Opera selected from The Peony Pavilion.

A presentation of Suzhou Embroidery was given by Master Yao Huifen, the representative inheritor of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage of Suzhou Embroidery. Participants took part in activities through DIY packs of Suzhou Embroidery greeting cards and took them home as Chinese New Year gifts for family members and friends.

Other activities included lion dancing, storytelling workshop, dumpling-making workshop, a screening of the documentary film “The Magical Craftsmanship of Suzhou” featuring a collection of artists from Suzhou who are representatives of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and a black & white photo gallery exhibit of Suzhou’s classical gardens.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/CelebrateSuzhou/

SOURCE – Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre

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