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Wednesday December 21, 2022

For Second Year, Minnesota Orchestra Performs Concert to Celebrate Lunar New Year

Conductor Junping Qian returns to the podium with special musical guests for a one-night concert that marks the Year of the Rabbit

The Minnesota Orchestra will bring its 2022-23 holiday programming to a close with a performance that commemorates the Lunar New Year and honors unity, family traditions and community wellbeing. The second annual concert presents a diverse range of repertoire by composers across cultures and generations. This year’s program is presented in partnership with The Great Northern, a Minnesota festival that celebrates cold, creative winters.

The Lunar New Year concert will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, January 28, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices range from $27 to $67. Free tickets are available for young listeners under the age of 18, thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass.

Lunar New Year is recognized around the world, with celebrations especially common across east and southeast Asia. In China, celebrations for the Lunar New Year and surrounding Spring Festival can last up to 16 days, making it the longest observed Chinese holiday. Principal Bassoon Fei Xie—who grew up in the city of Tangshan in the Hebei province of northern China—first approached the Orchestra several years ago with the idea of holding a Lunar New Year concert that would reach the Twin Cities’ Asian communities while introducing new audiences to diverse musical traditions and instrumentation. In this year’s concert, Xie again serves as artistic consultant.

Chinese-born, Berlin-based conductor Junping Qian, assistant conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra—where he works closely with Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård—led last year’s inaugural iteration and will return to the podium this January. Two renowned musicians will make their Minnesota Orchestra solo debuts with this program: Yiwen Lu, one of the most well-known erhu players—a versatile, two-stringed bowed instrument used in both traditional and contemporary arrangements—in China today; and South Korean baritone Joo Won Kang, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut last season as Marcello in La Bohème. Roz Tsai will host the evening.


About Junping Qian

Qian, having just completed his second year as the assistant conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, also serves as a visiting faculty member at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Last season he made debuts with several orchestras in his native China including the National Centre of Performing Arts Orchestra Beijing, Shanghai Opera House, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and Macau Orchestra, among numerous others. In the 2022-23 season he makes debut appearances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Transylvania Philharmonic Cluj, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

A highly lauded violist, Qian moved to Europe in 2014 after he won a position in the Swedish Radio Symphony, a job which he left in 2016 to pursue conducting full-time. His conducting career in Europe has been equally as celebrated; recent awards include third prize of the Hans von Bülow Conducting Competition in 2021 and third prize of the Princess Astrid Conducting Competition in Norway in 2022. In addition, he was a recipient of a Solti Foundation Career Award 2018-20. More: junpingqian.com.

About Yiwen Lu

Praised for her natural musicality and striking on-stage presence, Lu is one of the most celebrated erhu players and teachers in China. Her major awards include the Gold Medal of the 10th Golden Bell Award Erhu Competition in 2015—the highest award in any Chinese instrument competition—and the 4th Wenhua Prize, the Erhu Youth Group’s highest performance award in 2012.

Lu has collaborated extensively as a chamber musician and soloist across China and the world. In 2021, she and the Neo-classica String Quartet premiered newly commissioned arrangements for erhu and string quartet. As a soloist she has collaborated with major orchestras such as the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic and Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Among her recent performances, in 2022 she performed Qigang Chen’s Reflet d'un temps disparu with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and she toured with the SSO East Coast Quartet, GSO Feiyue String Quartet and NCPAO Bridge Quartet. She currently teaches erhu at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. More: minnesotaorchestra.org.

About Joo Won Kang

Kang has appeared in leading roles such as Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Germont in La Traviata, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Dandini in La Cenerentola, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, the title role in Eugene Onegin and Ping in Turandot with opera companies throughout the U.S. Among them are San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Arizona Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and Utah Opera. He sang the role of Chou En-lai in John Adams’ Nixon in China with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with the composer conducting, and he made his New York City Opera debut as Manfredo in L’Amore dei Tre Re. At the Wexford Festival, he sang the leading baritone roles in two rare operas, Donizetti’s Maria de Rudenz and Leoni’s L’Oracolo, as well as appearing there in recital.

This season, Kang returns to the Metropolitan Opera to cover Germont in La Traviata, a role he sings with Seattle Opera in the spring of 2024. He is a top prize winner in such important vocal competitions as the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Opera Index, McCammon Competition and Giulio Gari International Competition. More: kenbensonartists.com.

About Roz Tsai

Dr. Benhong Rosaline Tsai, who hosted the Minnesota Orchestra’s first Lunar New Year concert in February 2022, is a global talent management executive who has held transformative leadership roles with Ecolab, Honeywell and Xcel Energy. She currently serves as vice president of talent, learning, and organizational effectiveness at Thrivent, a Fortune 500 financial services firm based in Minneapolis. She is a long-time community volunteer for youth development, arts and culture organizations.

A native of Tianjin, China, Tsai completed her undergraduate studies at Nankai University and obtained her Master of Science degree at St. Cloud State University. She holds a doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota, where she currently serves as adjunct faculty for the Carlson School of Management. More: carlsonschool.umn.edu.

About Fei Xie

Xie joined the Minnesota Orchestra as principal bassoon at the beginning of the 2017-18 season after serving as principal bassoon of the Baltimore Symphony, an ensemble he first joined as second bassoonist in 2008. When he won the principal role in 2012, Xie became the first Chinese-born bassoonist to hold such a position in a major American symphony orchestra. A highly praised soloist, Xie has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra—performing Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in January 2021—Baltimore Symphony, Festival Mozaic Orchestra and the Sichuan Conservatory Symphony Orchestra in China. An avid educator, he has taught masterclasses and coached orchestral bassoonists at universities, conservatories, festivals and youth orchestras throughout the U.S., China and Brazil. More: minnesotaorchestra.org.

About The Great Northern

The Great Northern celebrates cold, creative winters through diverse programming that invigorates mind and body in late January and early February. In an era of changing climate that threatens our signature season, the festival seeks to create community, inspire action and share the resilient spirit of the North with the world. For more information on The Great Northern, visit thegreatnorthernfestival.com.


Minnesota Orchestra Holiday Concerts



Saturday, January 28, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Junping Qian, conductor

Yiwen Lu, erhu

Joo Won Kang, baritone

Roz Tsai, host

Fei Xie, artistic consultant


TAN Internet Symphony “Eroica”
SHIN Mountain
ROSSINI “Largo al factotum,” from The Barber of Seville
TENG/Lee Bāng Chhun-hong
LEE Kampong Overture
LIU/Mao Dance of the Yao People
WANG Erhu Rhapsody No. 2
KREISLER/McAlister Tambourin Chinois
BAO Selections from Chinese Sights and Sounds


Tickets: $27 to $67 [Free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18, thanks to our Hall Pass program.]



Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

Details around COVID safety protocols can be found at minnesotaorchestra.org/safety

The Hall Pass program makes free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18 for select Classical and Symphony in 60 concerts, and all kids under 18 for Family concerts. This program is sponsored by Cynthia and Jay Ihlenfeld. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.


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