There will be a unique performance of The Yellow River Cantata and other Chinese choral music on Saturday Oct 1st in London, given by the Chopsticks Choral Society.
Some of you may have heard of this flagship work (or at least the piano concerto version), a “classic” as popular in China as perhaps the Messiah in the West, but relatively unknown over here.
Before you turn up your ears in fright, the Cantata is nothing like Peking Opera, being a relatively modern piece written in 1939 by a Chinese composer who spent 5 years in France. After the initial performances by travelling Chinese troupes going around in the midst of a war, this stirring westernised version has evolved, integrating western classical music structures with traditional Chinese folk tunes.
“Stirring” is indeed an apt adjective to describe the music and words; here are some lines from the libretto:
“..The wind howls, horses neigh, the Yellow River roars..”
“…Swift waters, high waves, racing rapids sound like the cries of tigers and wolves..”
“…..The river shakes and leaps, like a flying dragon..”
Eugene Chang, a keen singer who spent many years working in Beijing, comments, “I was privileged to have sung in a performance in Beijing 6 years ago with the International Festival Chorus IFC under Nick Smith. The sight of so many foreigners singing this nationalistic work in putonghua in the Forbidden City Concert Hall caused quite a stir!
Nick is bringing several Beijing IFC members to London to sing this work with the Chopsticks Choral Society, a true East-West fusion. I am particularly pleased to be singing the piece again, and hope we can cause a stir again with our London audience. I can’t promise the Chorus will shake and leap about but I’m sure you’ll hear the roar of the Yellow River!”
The concert also offers a chance to brush up on your Mandarin and meet fellow British Chinese. The Chinese Ambassador will be present. Come and judge for yourself if the piece is more western or more Chinese.”
Booking number for tickets for the Oct 1st concert in Cadogan Hall is: 020 7730 4500 or click here