New West Symphony to Celebrate Chinese New Year with ‘A Tour of China’ Virtual Festival

By Logan Martell

New West Symphony continues its virtual 2020-21 season with “A Tour of China.”

A celebration of Chinese New Year and the Spring Lantern Festival, this four-day event of cultural programming will culminate in a symphony concert on Feb. 28, 2021.

Conducted by Artistic Director Michael Christie, the program will include artists such as mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, as well as Pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music Wu Man, and erhu master Hong Wang.

The event starts on Feb. 25, with a pre-concert talk via Zoom from UCLA Senior Lecturer David Ravetch, discussing the music to be performed on the final day. Feb. 26 will see a “Cultural Insights” program share insights on contributions made by Chinese Americans on California’s culture, with demonstrations of traditional instruments and discussions with partner organizations on history, art, and music.

Feb. 27 will be all about “Meet the Artists,” featuring interviews and performances by Cooke, Man, and Wang.

The program for Feb. 28’s symphony concert will include Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major. Op. 74,” and Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde,” arranged by Schoenberg. Chinese selections include Hua Yanjun’s “Ah Bing,” Wu Ziqiang’s “Moon Reflecting in the Second Spring,” Wu Man’s “Two Chinese Paintings,” and Tan Dun’s “Concerto for Pipa and Strings.”

“There is palpable excitement of performing together again (even at physical distance) combined with the thrill of exploring the influence of Chinese musical culture on Western musical traditions,” said Christie. “I am honored to welcome Wu Man, Sasha Cooke and Hong Wang, artists of extraordinary talent and notoriety, to the Kavli Theater stage to join our magnificent New West Symphony musicians. These artists are such joyful performers that I know our festival patrons will experience ravishing and energetic musical performances and unique traditional instrumental virtuosity.”