With Lunar New Year approaching, we want to highlight some of the amazing music you would normally hear at a Chinese New Year celebration, and some of the leading Chinese artists currently making music throughout the world.
First, the celebration!
Lunar New Year Music
Fengyang Flower Drum is a traditional folk tune originating in the Ming Dynasty. It is now a staple of the Chinese New Year “soundtrack.” Here it is performed by Fiddlefox on their album Chinese Heritage Songbook.
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, as it happens to coordinate with the “Beginning of Spring,” according to the lunisolar calendar used by the ancient Chinese. So, references to weather are common in the music as well.
Thunder in Dry Season (various artists)
It is traditional for the new year celebrations to end with a gorgeous lantern celebration, in which thousands of paper lanterns are lit and sent floating into the sky. The lanterns represent wishes for a bright future. Here’s a sample of the music you might hear on the ground as the lanterns are released.
Lantern festival celebration, Min-xiong/Shanghai Phil Li
Current Chinese Musicians
There are many Chinese artists making substantial contributions to the current day canon. Here is a sample of a few.
Zhou Tian is a Grammy-nominated Chinese-American composer. He is currently the Composer-in Residence for the Shanghai Symphony, only the second one ever to hold that title in the whole of their 140 year history. The piece he wrote for them, Concerto for Orchestra, is the work that netted him his Grammy nomination, and the Shanghai Symphony itself is performing in the recording below.
An-Lun Huang was born in China in 1949 and emigrated to Canada after completing his studies at the Conservatory in Beijing. His music focuses on the blending of Eastern and Western influences. See what you think in his Saibei Dance, performed by the Chicago Sinfonietta and Mai-Ann Chen.
The Yellow River Piano Concerto is unique in that it is a compositional collaboration among many Chinese composers! It was composed in 1969 during the cultural revolution in China, a socioeconomic purge marked by extreme violence and bloodshed. Here world-renowned pianist Lang Lang performs with China Philharmonic Orchestra.