Six Chinese Musicians Bring “The Charm” to Carnegie Hall


On February 1, just before the Chinese New Year, six Chinese musicians will present The Charm – Traditional Instrument, Modern Interpretation at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.  Organized by FJ International Culture Communication and Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, this concert features collaboration of young, ambitious talent who redefine the possibilities of the erhu, guzheng, pipa, and yangqin through original contemporary arrangements with piano, woodwind instruments, and string ensembles.  

One of the six musicians Feifei Yang (杨飞飞), a celebrated huqin artist and an award-winning vocalist, emphasizes the originality of this performance, “Through this concert, we would like to present more possibilities of traditional Chinese music by presenting new works by new artists, thus furthering the development of this genre in America.”  As the organizer and the artistic director of this concert, Yang encourages anyone who is interested in music to come and experience their musical and cultural interpretations. 

Other performers and composers who will perform or showcase their works are Yunzhuo Gan (干云卓, yangqin, composer), Dong Liu (刘冬, composer), Jiaju Shen (沈嘉琚, pipa), Mengyan Yu (虞梦颜, guzheng), and Li Zong (宗立, composer).  Nearly each of these New York-based artists has practiced their beloved instruments for two decades.  They innovatively combine their extensive trainings and international stage experiences to develop their unique approaches to Chinese tradition.  Many of them have performed at famous venues such as Lincoln Center, the United Nations, the World Expo, and the Olympics.  

The original pieces cover themes such as Buddhism, nature, cultures and personal emotions.  Potalaka, composed by Li Zong, borrows the name from Guanyin Bodhisattva’s sacred mountain dwelling and explores the restless mentality and the mysteriousness of this extraordinary figure in Buddhism.  Yunzhuo Gan’s Intertwinewritten upon Gan’s arrival to New York, illustrates the idea of uprooting oneself from a life in the spotlight and finding solitude in a life in the darkness.  Committing himself to following the spirit of Zen and to seeking the root of eastern music that is neglected by people who live in cities, Dong Liu wrote Dharma so the audience can experience a relaxed music journey.

The musicians recently received a letter from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio which called the concert a “terrific opportunity to celebrate the musical traditions of our Chinese community” and commended them for reaching new audiences and their commitment to the arts. 

The preparation for the concert was not easy.   To remain independent from outside control, the team did not seek any commercial sponsorship.  Instead, they started a crowdfunding campaign for support from friends and fans of traditional music.   After being approved to perform at Carnegie Hall, the team was told that only February 1 was available.  From composing new musical pieces to contacting the press, the six musicians spared no effort to make sure they present their best for this special occasion. “You can definitely use your old pieces, why push yourself so hard?” a friend asked Jiaju Shen, who last summer debuted the “e-pa”, an electric pipa in a dazzling concert with Li Zong.  “This is our dream, and none of us want to leave any regret,” she answered, reflecting each person’s attitude towards music and their high expectations for themselves on the stage.

To give you an idea of the sound and energy you can expect at the concert, take a look at Feifei Yang and Jiaju Shen’s refreshing performance at 2015 NBA Barclay Center:

And this exciting piece of music Li Zong wrote for a dance performance Daven:

To support this group of passionate artists, purchase tickets, or for more information about each of them, please refer to their crowdfunding page.  Tickets can also be purchased here.  Keep up with updates through the event page on Facebook.

Monday, February 1, 7:30 PM
Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall
Tickets begin at $30

The article has been updated to reflect an update to the concert program.