American Citizens Highly Praise the “Classic Spring Festival Gala” Held by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona [Time]    2014-04-14 15:48:28 

On January 25, 2014, the annual Chinese New Year Festival held by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona again became a feast of Chinese culture of which local audiences were very fond. Even the preparations already drew the attention of local media. The performance was put on in the fully-packed Centennial Hall, which had once witnessed performances of such great artists as Ma Youyou and Lang Lang. A number of major media announced the performance in advance and covered it, including 19 websites, two newspaper offices, one TV station and one radio station.

The Annual Chinese New Year Festival has become a crucial part for people in Tucson to experience Chinese culture. Every year, it attracts around 3,000 local citizens to come to the Centennial Hall at the University of Arizona to observe Spring Festival together. This year, the festival serves as not only the “Reunion Dinner of the New Year of the Horse”, but also a window for local people to get access to and appreciate Chinese culture.

After Counselor of the Chinese Consulate General in L.A. Yuan Dong, Vice President of the University of Arizona Joe Garcia and directors of the Confucius Institute respectively delivered a speech to extend their warm new-year greetings, Gong Hao, an excellent student from the Confucius Institute, expressed in fluent Chinese his sincere thanks and wishes to the Confucius Institute.

The performance began with the joyful, soulful Chinese song Lupine by the children from the ALL Confucius Classroom. Conducted by Lang Xiaoming, Artistic Director-General of the performance and a teacher of the Confucius Institute, three bands of over 30 members from Tucson and Phoenix presented an opening folk music ensemble Pay a New Year Visit. The tune, sometimes melodious sometimes passionate, let all the audiences feel the joyous vibe of the Chinese New Year. The duet Lovesickness, affectionate and moving, elicited imagination and feelings of the audiences, in particular homesickness of the Chinese audiences present. 19 high school students from Tucson performed Chinese ballet Jasmine, a creative combination of Chinese fan dances and Western ballet, which was a feast for eyes..

Conducted by Jeff Haskell, a three-time Emmy Awards winner and professor from the college of music at the University of Arizona, the university Jazz Band played their own version of Lift Your Veil, a hybrid of Chinese folk music and exotic Jazz music, which was really refreshing.

The Arizona Boy’s Choir, who had once performed in the White House and in China several times, sang in their heavenly, pure voice a classic Chinese song -- “please bring my song to your home, please keep my smile in your heart”. Watching the kids merrily singing Chinese songs on stage, both American and Chinese audiences present got very emotional. Under the guidance of teachers from the Confucius Institute, these American children are growing to become envoys of cultural exchanges and the hope of the further cooperation between China and the US. The audiences showed their affection for each show through their warm applauses.

The Wushu performance Might in Times of Prosperity by Zhao Junming and his students as well as the Huaxia Wushu Team in the local community pushed the festival to a climax. Dozens of performers showcased their Kung Fu with traditional Chinese weapons such as Shaolin swords, spears and clubs, winning rounds of cheers and applauses. Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon by Zhang Yue and Huazi Girl Dance Troupe demonstrated the softness and hardness of Taiji as well as the beauty of Shuixiu (water-sleeve) fan folk dances, leading the audiences into a world of traditional Chinese Wushu Taiji culture.

Wushu: Might in Times of Prosperity

As long-time partners of the Confucius Institute, Tuscon Huazi Dance Troupe and Dance Teams from Tuscon Chinese Language School and Tuscon TCMC School brought the audiences different beautiful dances, for instance, Walk on Clouds, Alley in a Small Raining City, Song of Tomorrow, and Moonlight Over the Lotus Pond. Liang Zhengqiang, a representative of Chinese artists in Tuscon, performed Guzheng solo Lin Chong Running in the Night, reflecting the love for and pride in traditional Chinese art deep rooted in the hearts of overseas Chinese.

Children’s Dance: Moonlight Over the Lotus Pond

The performance concluded with the chorus Swan Goose, the Peking Opera Farewell My Concubine and the song Chinese New Year Comes in January on Lunar Calendar by all the teachers from the Confucius Institute, receiving a long standing ovation.

Peking Opera: Farewell My Concubine

According to statistics, there were 14 shows during the two-hour performance, and over 200 performers of 16 art troupes from local area and other areas in Arizona participated in. To further publicize traditional Chinese culture, the Confucius Institute held an exhibition of Chinese culture, art, and traditional Chinese medicine and played videos about China in front of the Centennial Hall, which were all warmly welcomed by local people. Many seniors told the students and teachers of the Confucius Institute their own stories about and ties with China. Those who attended the festival for the first time couldn’t help praising the unique charm of Chinese culture.

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