Celebrate Chinese New Year this month with four days of festivities at the Kennedy Center, from February 5-8. This year’s lineup includes free performances on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Family Day activities, and a final performance featuring the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra.
The Kennedy Center has hosted and produced festivities celebrating Chinese culture for 11 years. In 2005, Vice President for Dance and International Programs, Alicia Adams, began traveling to China to establish artistic ties with performers.
“The Kennedy Center has been exploring China’s arts and culture for more than 10 years,” Adams says. “I have traveled to China more than two dozen times to attend festivals and to find artists who would be appropriate to include in our ongoing series at the Kennedy Center.”
Shenzhen, the city from which most of this year’s performers hail, is represented so often because it is one of the most artistically rich and cultivated cities in China, according to Adams. Two notable groups of performers, the Shenzhen Lily Girls’ Choir – one of the culture landmarks of Shenzhen’s cultural community – and the city’s Symphony Orchestra, represent China’s high achievements in both Western and Chinese classical music.
Adams is thrilled by the inclusion of the Symphony Orchestra, who will perform on Monday, February 8 at 8 p.m., especially because of how the musicians demonstrate the type of artistic exchange that the Kennedy Center strives to promote.
“China is a country that embraces Western classical music and by bringing this orchestra [to the Kennedy Center], audiences are able to see new and fresh interpretations of this music. Also, they always include Chinese classical music in their performances, which introduces [our audiences] to a variety of works over the course of the evening.
The Millennium Stage will host a performance by the Henan Arts Troupe of Beijing, including Chinese opera performers, traditional musicians, acrobats, and martial artists, who will achieve amazing physical displays in full costume with exact musical accompaniment. The Troupe will play an important outreach role during Family Day, on Saturday, February 6, providing stage makeup demos and the opportunity to dress up in costume, along with other arts & crafts activities.
Whether it’s acrobats from Beijing, pop singers from Inner Mongolia and the Yunan Province, or rappers from the Guizhou Province, this year’s performers represent the cultural and artistic diversity of China’s vast territory and traditions.
“Each group has their own unique sound, creating new contemporary music styles by combining elements of traditional Chinese music with modern music,” Adams says. “The common ground is the beat, the sound, and the style of music which is reflective of contemporary culture around the world.”
Check out www.kennedy-center.org to learn more about individual performances and Family Day activities.
Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org
Photos courtesy Kennedy Center