Through the centuries since Marco Polo's expeditions to the East when travelers brought stories and treasures from this far off land, the West has been fascinated by China and its art, culture, and crafts. The expansiveness of the Chinese Empire was fascinating to the city states and smaller empires of Western Europe. Monarchs coveted the lavish silks and beautiful porcelains from China and created rooms decorated with Chinese artifacts and tapestries--China style.
After President Nixon visited in 1972 and China opened to the world, many of the country's best creative musicians travelled to the U.S. to further their studies, among them Oscar(r)
-winning composer Tan Dun and Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Zhou Long. The last 30 years have seen these brilliant musicians triumph in the United States, and American music and musicians have been embraced by the Chinese public as well.
This concert celebrates that fruitful exchange with music from both lands. It features Chinese orchestral music, excerpts from contemporary Chinese operas (like Savage Land
and Madame White Snake
) that have won fans around the world, and pieces by Puccini and Bernstein that have become favorites of Chinese audiences. Perhaps the most popular and visible example of a Western composer's intrigue with China is Puccini's Turandot
, excerpted for this concert. Conductor Xian Zhang, Music Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, leads the Washington National Opera Orchestra and an international cast of vocalists and soloists--Huang Ying, Carl Tanner, Yang Xiaoyong, Tian Haojiang, Maria Eugenia Antuñez, Jennifer Waters, Chi Liming, Wan Shanhong, Jiang Kemei (erhu
), and Li Chuanyun (violin)--in a thrilling evening of artistic friendship. CHINA: The Art of a Nation
, a series on the arts and culture of China inspired by the Center's acclaimed Festival of China
in 2005, revisits the flourishing arts of one of the 21st century's world powers with nearly 300 artists spanning all genres of the performing arts.