Music to Ring in Chinese New Year

Audio for this story from Performance Today is not available.

Listen: Hear 'Sunflowers' and Debussy's 'Gardens in the Rain'

Listen: Hear 'A Busker's Little Tune'

Listen: Hear Chen Gang's 'Butterfly Lover's Concerto'

Classical pianists from China are on the rise. From a concert at the NPR studios, Yundi Li plays a traditional Chinese tune called "Sunflowers." And from a concert at the Strings in the Mountains Festival in Colorado, Van Cliburn medalist Sa Chen plays "Gardens in the Rain," by Claude Debussy.

Lanterns ring in the Chinese new year.

Lanterns ring in the Chinese new year. hide caption

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Traditional Chinese music is very different from western music. They are usually played on different instruments, in a different scale. But the Shanghai Quartet has melded the two traditions in their 2002 Chinasong. From that collection of folksong arrangements, the Shanghai Quartet plays "A Busker's Little Tune" at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Composer Chen Gang was inspired by a Chinese folk tale when he wrote the "Butterfly Lover's Concerto" for the traditional Chinese instrument the erhu. The soloist is Xu Ke, one of the world's greatest erhu players, and the Buffalo Philharmonic is directed by JoAnn Falletta.

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