The inauguration of the Year of the Tiger, the lunar or “Chinese” New Year 4708, began with the new moon that occurred on Valentine’s Day, and climaxes this weekend with the first full moon of the New Year. It would be difficult to imagine a better way to celebrate than with the North American debut of the Hong Kong-based Windpipe Chinese Ensemble.
Thanks to the auspices of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office of New York, which is sponsoring the tour, and Chicago’s Fulcrum Point New Music Project, the Windpipe Chinese Ensemble will present a free, one-night-only area performance that will spotlight this remarkable group that seeks to preserve traditional Chinese music on indigenous instruments as well as create a new body of contemporary Chinese music for ensemble that feature both traditional and modern instruments.
The nine-member ensemble performs on the Dizi (Chinese traverse flute), Suona (double reed trumpet), Xiao (vertical bamboo flute), Sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Yangin (Chinese dulcimer), Pipa (Chinese lute), Qinqin (lower lute) Sanxian (three-stringed lute), Daruan (Chinese string bass) along with such bowed string instruments as the Erhu, Goohu, Erxian, Zhonghu, Yehy and Tiqin.
The program will include two world premieres commissioned especially for this concert: Li Cheong’s “Drumming Ridge,” which will seek to evoke the Qing Dynasty when villagers would beat a huge drum on a hilltop to alert fellow villages against invasion, and Ng Cheuk-yin’s “Tiger Sketch,” which depicts not only the stalking movements of the tiger during the Year of the Tiger, but also the swish of Chinese comic book artist Lee Chi-ching’s paintbrush as he paints a tiger via video.
Other works on the program—some of which will also be performed by members of Fulcrum Point New Music Project in collaboration with the Windpipe Chinese Ensemble—include “In Celebration of Good Times” by Yau Hok-chau, “Birds Returning to the Woods” by Yi Jianquan, “Koel on Mount Parker” by Clarence Mak, “Distant Reflection” by Joshua Chan, “Dancing on Glass” by Victoria Bond, “Ritual Gathering” by Chen Neng-chi, and a multimedia finale entitled “Cat and Rat—Legend of the Chinese Zodiac” based on the illustrated book by Caldecott Award winner Ed Young, performed with readings and video projections.
Tickets are free, but e-tickets need to be reserved in advance by e-mailing email@example.com. There is a limit of four e-tickets per person, and requests will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis. (Dennis Polkow)
Northwestern University’s Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago, (312)726-3846. 7:30pm. Free.
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org