Chinese Music For The New Year In New York

Lucky paper lanterns in a shop in Manhattan's Chinatown. i i

Lucky paper lanterns in a shop in Manhattan's Chinatown. iStock hide caption

itoggle caption iStock
Lucky paper lanterns in a shop in Manhattan's Chinatown.

Lucky paper lanterns in a shop in Manhattan's Chinatown.

iStock

Chinese people everywhere continue to celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dragon, which began Monday. The 15-day party includes all manner of feasting, family visits and hopes for good luck and good fortune.

We've been having our own celebration, and our colleagues at WQXR in New York are in the middle of a festival they're calling "China in New York." All week they're taking an in-depth look at native Chinese musicians who have made the transition to the U.S. Composers such as Huang Ruo, Chen Yi, Zhou Long and Tan Dun continue to influence music by blending their ancient traditions with contemporary sounds.

While celebrating China's achievements, WQXR has also taken time to hit the pause button and consider issues of human rights. For the "Conducting Business" podcast, WQXR invited Phelim Kine, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, New York Times arts reporter Robin Pogrebin and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of the recent book China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, to join host Naomi Lewin in considering the duties of Western arts organizations in partnering with the Chinese government.

WQXR's Podcast:

Along the way, WQXR has connected the classical community to some of the arteries in New York's thriving Chinese communities — as when they invited the Shanghai Quartet to perform at a gallery in the Chinatown of Flushing, Queens. It's a neighborhood that rivals Manhattan's own Chinatown in size, population and cultural depth:

WQXRClassical/YouTube

The Shanghai Quartet plays in Flushing's Chinatown.


Meanwhile, Q2, WQXR's online sister station dedicated to new music, has been busy exploring the intersection of tradition and cutting-edge modernity. They invited the Hainan-born, New York-based composer Huang Ruo to sing five of his favorite folk tunes, which he performed in a gorgeously full and joyous voice:

WQXRClassical/YouTube

Composer Huang Ruo.

And if this taste of China has left you hungry for more, head on over to WQXR, where you can find all sorts of other tasty treats — from videos of the Beijing Guitar Duo performing a casual concert in the station's staff cafe to an inspiring visit with composer Chou Wen-Chung, whose own work and editions of music by his teacher, Edgar Varèse, are hugely important.

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