For almost half a century, the China National Symphony Orchestra has introduced audiences throughout its homeland to an immense repertoire of classical, romantic, modern and contemporary orchestral works by both Western and Asian composers, and made its successful first appearance in the U.S. seven years ago.
Originally founded as the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China in 1956, the orchestra was restructured and renamed in 1996.
“CNSO is the best orchestra in China. The orchestra had a tour in the United States in 2006 and built a reputation, which we are hoping to maintain through breathtaking beauty of music,” said Xia Guan, the orchestra’s executive director. “The orchestra makes a unique sound when interpreting western classical pieces, out of unusual understanding, much less Chinese music we played over many years.”
The CNSO is made up of an outstanding team of instrumentalists, many of whom have won prizes in national and international competitions. Over the years, the orchestra has collaborated with some of the classical music world’s stars, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Seiji Ozawa, Charles Dutoit and Isaac Stern; and worked with conductors Li Delun, Han Zhongjie, Yan Liangkun, Qiu Li, Zuohuang Chen and Muhai Tang.
On Feb. 2, under the baton of conductor Li Xincao, the China National Symphony Orchestra will play the George Mason University Concert Hall.
“Li is principal resident conductor of CNSO, and is one of the most outstanding young conductors in China,” Xia said. “He has a lot of experience on the podium and his understanding of music is quite different from those of his peers.”
When the orchestra last was at GMU, audiences exploded in applause, and the orchestra is looking forward to a return trip to its stage.
“We are pretty confident in success of concerts at George Mason University. Our previous concerts, we saw people stand up to applaud for remarkably long after each piece and we were delighted and touched to find that American audiences enjoyed CNSO’s performance,” said Xia, composer of the first work on the program. “It seemed they gave us their highest recognition for performing groups. That’s why we are getting more self-confident for the upcoming concerts.”
The program includes “Requiem for the Earth, Movement I,” Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47” and Rachmaninoff’s “Symphony No. 2.”
“As to our program, it is based on common practices of a symphonic concert, that is, a piece of instrumental music, as overture, and a concerto for the first half and a symphony after intermission,” Xia said. “A small change this time is that the Earth Requiem has been placed at the start, with the purpose of letting American audiences know the development of contemporary music composition in China 2013 marks the fifth year after the 5.12 earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan, China, which caught attention and concern from all over the world. We are presenting it to remind people not to forget those lives lost in the disaster.”
The concert will feature Yang Xu on violin, one of the most promising talents on his instrument in the world.
“[He] is one of the most talented young Chinese violinists at present. He is a permanent musician with the Metropolitan Opera,” Xia said. “We appreciate his talent and zealous style of performance, so we brought him here to showcase what an excellent Chinese violinist can do.”
With six shows in 10 nights, the orchestra is making the most of its short time in the States and is hoping to give its fans everything they expect.
“Based on our knowledge from previous concerts, American audiences think highly of a performing group not only for excellent skills but also because of the emotional power to form an interaction between performers and the audience,” Xia said. “We believe that people who buy tickets for both hearing and an emotional experience will no doubt have an unforgettable night.”