For the first time ever, the China Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
The concert, which will be conducted by Long Yu, is planned for Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. and will feature 12-year-old piano prodigy Serena Wang playing along side the CPO.
During its third American tour, the CPO will pay tribute to the United States with Czech composer Antonín Dvor̆ák’s “Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World,’” more commonly known as “New World Symphony.”
It is Dvor̆ák’s most famous work and is based on what he heard in the U.S. as themes coming from African-American spirituals and Native American rituals. “New World Symphony” officially premiered at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on Dec. 16, 1893. Astronaut Neil Armstrong reportedly took a recording of the symphony on Apollo 11 during the first moon landing in 1969.
“We chose Dvor̆ák’s ‘New World Symphony’ because it was written in America and it has lots of American elements,” CPO Concertmaster Chen Yun said. “Actually we played this piece a lot in Asia last year and this year because it’s well-known.”
It also won’t be the first time that Serena is performing with the CPO.
“Serena is a young and talented pianist,” Yun said. “She first played the ‘Beethoven No. 1’ piano concerto with us when she was 9 years old and her playing is absolutely stunning.”
He added that conductor Zubin Mehta, former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in addition to numerous major orchestras around the world, spoke very highly of Serena after working with her.
Serena began playing the piano when she was 4 and a year later became the youngest winner in the Bach Piano Competition at the University of California, Berkeley. She’s won numerous awards after that, including the gold prize in the Second National Youth’s Piano Showing competition in Xiamen, China. Serena also appeared in the book, “Dan Zhaoyi, a Piano Educationalist Who Taught World Champions.”
The CPO was established in 2000 to be administered by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and had its premiere concert on Dec. 16, 2000 at Poly Theatre in Beijing. Its aim is to promote Chinese music across the globe and foster its own unique style described as “the Sound of China Philharmonic.” Yu is the artistic director and chief conductor of the CPO, which has presented more than 1,000 performances, such as concerts, operas, chamber music, ballets, musicals, film and television music and multimedia. The CPO has marked numerous accomplishments throughout the years, including becoming the first Chinese orchestra to work with a major label and release recordings internationally when it collaborated with Deutsche Grammophon from 2000-04, embarking on a 22-city world tour in 2005, being named one of “The 10 Most Inspiring Orchestras” in 2009 by Gramaphone online and debuting a 100-CD box-set of live recordings in 2012.
Yun said obviously the CPO is still young compared to orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But he explained that Chinese people began learning how to play Western instruments in the 1920s. Playing classical music is now a professional career in China and there are many musicians working for orchestras, according to Yun. He said the Chinese government established CPO for this reason and the musical organization has hired elite young Chinese musicians since it began.
“Our repertoire is getting bigger and players are more experienced,” Yun said.
The CPO is now constructing its own concert hall with acoustics designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, who also was the acoustician for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Yun said the CPO is very excited to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
“[The Walt Disney Concert Hall] is so well known and we are looking forward to playing there,” he said.
To purchase tickets, visit laphil.org.