On the evening of 9 February, shortly before the Chinese lunar Lantern Festival, the Royal Festival Hall of Southbank Centre in London was decorated with bright lights, red lanterns and "Chinese knots". The Royal Festival Hall was full of Chinese New Year festivity.
A Chinese New Year Concert, presented by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Yu Long, a famous Chinese Conductor was about to begin. Among the 1,500-strong audience were Chinese Ambassador to the UK H.E. Liu Xiaoming and his wife, and HRH Prince Michael of Kent.
The concert was both an artistic feast combining Chinese and western music, and a cultural immersion featuring Spring Festival and the traditional Chinese values. The programme was hand-picked by conductor Yu Long, and played by the top musicians of the Philharmonia Orchestra, together with Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov, Chinese bass-baritone Shen Yang and young Chinese violinist Paloma So, etc. The pieces included Chinese traditional music such as Overture of Spring Festival by Li Huanzhi, Homesick by Huang Zi, Enchanted Night by Liu Tianhua, Butterfly Lovers by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and works of western musicians such as excerpt from Faust by Charles Gounod, Polovtsian Dances by Aleksandr Borodin and Navarra by Pablo De Sarasate, etc. The charming mixture of eastern and western music offered the audience an experience of the joy and wonder of the Chinese New Year as well as its emphasis on reunion and peace. Maxim Vengerov's rendition of the Butterfly Lovers, the most popular violin concerto in China, was the climax of the evening. It was a real taste of the gracefulness of a thorough mastery of eastern and western arts.
The wonderful performance of Chinese artists became a highlight of the show. Yu Long's passionate conducting, Shen Yang's vigorous and sonorous singing, and young artist Paloma So's brilliant "talent beyond her years" left the audience amazed at the superb performance of Chinese musicians.
The concert lasted for nearly two hours and produced rapturous applause and cheers from an enchanted audience. At the end of the concert, the crowd lingered and paid tribute to the musicians. Many said it was the best concert by Chinese and Western artists they had ever enjoyed.
Ambassador Liu Talking with HRH Prince Michael of Kent
Ambassador Liu wrote a warm congratulatory message for the event and conveyed his festive greetings for the Year of the Rooster which he described as "an auspicious symbol, an image of renewed vigor and firm determination". He thanked the organisers, the co-organisers and the sponsors for their hard work. He also applauded the concert for providing a cultural feast and a Chinese New Year celebration with through masterpieces of eastern and western music. Ambassador Liu stressed that 2017 would be a year for consolidating the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations, and would mark the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial diplomatic relations between China and the UK. The bilateral relationship is at a historical moment "to lock in what's been achieved and seek further growth." There is huge potential and bright prospects for cooperation. He expressed the hope to work together with everyone to write a new chapter for China-UK relations in the new year.
During the interval, Ambassador Liu had cordial talks with HRH Prince Michael of Kent and other guests. He thanked the Royal Family and the British Government for their supports for the exchanges between the two countries in culture and other sectors, and hoped the two sides may take the opportunity of the "Golden Era" in China-UK relations to further deepen friendship and cooperation. After the performance, Ambassador Liu met with conductor Yu Long and the artists. He congratulated them on the successful concert and encouraged them to make greater contribution to China-UK cultural exchanges.
Founded in 1945, Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the main symphony orchestras in London that gives more than 160 performances each year. To further enrich the Spring Festival celebration events in London, the Chinese Embassy worked actively to enlist the support of the Philharmonia Orchestra in the Chinese New Year Celebration Concert. Last year, the first Chinese New Year Concert was successfully held at the Locarno Suite of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Starting from this year, the concert will be held for three consecutive years at the Royal Festival Hall of Southbank Centre, a mainstream theatre in London.
Ambassador with Conductor Yu Long