San Francisco Symphony
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The China National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Orchestra presents a concert at Davies Symphony Hall on November 5. Conducted by Lü Jia, the program includes Chen Qigang’s Luan Tan, Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, and Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa with String Orchestra, performed by world-renowned pipa player Wu Man, in celebration of the composer’s birth centennial. The concerto was written for Wu Man, who premiered it in 1997 in honor of the composer’s 80th birthday.
China NCPA Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. Established in March 2010, the orchestra performs in more than a dozen opera productions presented by its home venue every year as well as in regular orchestral concerts in its own season. The November 5 concert in San Francisco is part of a six-city U.S. tour which celebrates the Centre's 10th anniversary season. Other stops on the tour include the Symphony Center in Chicago October 28, a Carnegie Hall debut in New York on October 28, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia November 1, Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill November 2, and Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor November 7. The tour programming aims to showcase the dynamic artistry of this outstanding young ensemble and highlight its extraordinary dedication to cultural exchange.
Qigang Chen’s orchestral work, Luan Tan, follows his recent scores in drawing upon folk traditions of Chinese musical drama. It is a tribute to Chen’s son Yuli, who died tragically in a car crash at the age of 29. As the composer described in an interview with the South China Morning Post, the loss of his only child halted his creativity for a year and the long gestation of the new work marked the depth of grief to be overcome: "I wanted a breakthrough of my musical style, which tended to be refined, melancholy, and soft. So I chose the folkish elements in China’s long theatrical tradition that is strong in rhythm and dynamics. The overall tone of Luan Tan is energetic and happy, and that’s my boy’s personality…my son and I co-exist in the music, which is positive, dynamic and full of life." Luan Tan was premiered by Xian Zhang and the Hong Kong Philharmonic on April 17, 2016 and will receive its first U.S. performances during this tour.
Lou Harrison’s colorful Concerto for Pipa and Orchestra was completed in 1997, towards the end of the composer’s life. It brilliantly demonstrates Harrison’s ability to combine different musical languages and cultural influences to create truly unique compositions. Long before he visited Asia for the first time, Lou Harrison had already incorporated the sounds of its music into his own work. Born on the West Coast, he began, with his earliest works, to move toward a synthesis of the musical cultures bordering the Pacific. The pipa concerto, Harrison’s last large-scale work, which he wrote for Wu Man, places a single Asian instrument against the Western symphony orchestra. Watch a short clip of Wu Man performing this work with the China NCPA Orchestra.
Wu Man is a Chinese pipa player and composer. Trained in Pudong-style pipa performance at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, she is known for playing in a broad range of musical styles and introducing the pipa and its Chinese heritage into Western genres. She has performed and recorded extensively with Kronos Quartet and Silk Road Ensemble, and has premiered works by Philip Glass, Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, Bright Sheng, TAN Dun, Jiping Zhao, and Long Zhou, among many others. She has recorded and appeared on over 40 albums, five of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards. In 2013, she was named Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America, becoming the first performer of a non-Western instrument to receive this award. She is the first artist from China to perform at the White House and she also received The United States Artist' Award in 2008.
Lü Jia is the Chief Conductor of China NCPA Orchestra as well as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Macao Orchestra. In the past, he has served as Music Director of Verona Opera in Italy, and Artistic Director of the Santa Cruz De Tenerife Symphony Orchestra in Spain. He has conducted nearly 2000 orchestral concerts and opera performances in Europe and the United States. A highly acclaimed opera conductor, Lü Jia has led over fifty productions internationally and is the recipient of several prestigious Italian opera prizes.
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Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
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