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Inside the Music

One Night to Welcome a New Year

Celebratory lobby activities before a Lunar New Year concert.

农历新年音乐会 (read about the concert in Mandarin Chinese)

Our annual Lunar New Year concert has become a much-anticipated new tradition at Orchestra Hall for audiences, staff and musicians alike. Our concert on February 17 is no different, as we’ll welcome the Year of the Dragon with a program packed with works of joy and revelry. Conductor Junping Qian has carefully curated the program; and between pieces, host Roz Tsai will provide context for each piece—making the concert as educational as it is thrilling.

A trademark of our Lunar New Year concerts has been Orchestra Hall debuts of awe-inspiring musicians. In 2022, composer and pipa soloist Gao Hong performed the world premiere of her pipa concerto, Guangxi Impression. And last year, Yiwen Lu took concertgoers—and social media—by storm with her playing of the erhu. This year, the Orchestra will be joined by the infinitely talented vocalist, đàn bầu and đàn tranh performer Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ, who will perform her own Lullaby for a Country.

Ten years ago, Võ played at a much smaller venue—NPR Music’s Tiny Desk. We invite you to watch that performance below, which highlights how she blends traditional Vietnamese instrumentation with many other genres.

Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ performs in a 2014 NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

Our own concert will weave together musical styles, reflecting the many nations in which Lunar New Year is observed. For instance, Qian will open the evening with Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture, which depicts new year revelries in China’s Shanbei region; the concert’s first half also features contemporary Korean-American composer Texu Kim’s Korean folk music-inspired Dub-Sanjo, and legendary Taiwanese composer Tyzen Hsiao’s The Angel from Formosa.

Specially curated to emphasize themes of unity, health and community well-being, the concert is a family affair. But that’s doubly true for the Xie family. Our Principal Bassoon Fei Xie again served as artistic consultant on this year’s program. His parents, jing hu master Zhengang Xie and yue qin master Mei Hu, first performed in the Orchestra’s 2022 Lunar New Year program. They’ll take the stage again to offer the world premiere of Flying Dragon and Dancing Phoenix by famed Peking Opera composer Zhenqiang Xie, who happens to be Zhengang’s brother and Fei’s uncle!

Mei Hu and Zhengang Xie perform during the 2022 Lunar New Year concert.

Credit: Courtney Perry

As always, family-friendly festivities will span across the Hall with dance and music performances presented in the lobby prior to the concert, programmed in partnership with the Alliance of Chinese Culture and Art and Carleton College’s Department of Music. Another reason to bring the kids? Those ages 6-18 get free tickets.

There are plenty of reasons to join us for our Lunar New Year concert on February 17. Regardless of yours, get your tickets before they sell out.