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Instruments of friendship

By Minlu Zhang | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-03 08:49

Musicians play Mandalas in the Rubble at the concert. [Photo/Xinhua]

Ye Xiaogang, a composer and president of the Chinese Musicians' Association, who wrote Gardenia, one of the pieces played in the concert, was impressed by the turnout.

"We have so many audience members tonight. That means music is important in the minds of all people," Ye says.

Ye also notes that the American musicians who performed showed enthusiasm for playing Chinese music.

"I think they love Chinese music very much," Ye says. "This enthusiasm expresses the common pursuit of cultural appreciation and the love of art shared by the people of China and the United States. We share a common interest in investigating the background and history behind culture," says Ye, adding that the concert demonstrated that music is a universal language.

Some American audience members said it was their first time to see and hear the pipa, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument with a pear-shaped, wooden body.

"It was amazing. Chinese music is so different. I thought that through the whole show. It's very refreshing. I enjoyed it," says Paul Wolfson, a New York City resident.

"Incredible. I never heard music from Chinese composers before. For me, the concert opened a new musical world," says Svetlana Lyulina, who is from Russia.

"Although the pandemic has suspended people-to-people exchanges between China and the US over the past two years, it has not broken the connection between the two peoples and their desire for art and a better life," Huang Ping, China's consul general in New York, said in a letter.

"Music brings people together across cultures and enhances mutual understanding. … I hope that, with joint effort, our two countries may seek common ground, while reserving differences, and work together to address various challenges faced by mankind," he wrote.

Sunday's concert was the second part of this year's Image China, a cultural exchange initiative that aims to introduce traditional and contemporary Chinese performing arts to audiences around the world. It was presented by the China Arts and Entertainment Group.

Ye says the group's effort to collaborate with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center contributes to China's new music development.

Since 2012, Image China has presented a series of Chinese dance dramas at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, including The Peony Pavilion, Silk Road, The Red Dress, The Legend of Mulan, Dragon Boat Racing, Confucius, Soaring Wings and Princess Zhaojun.

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