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The Year of the Monkey

Conductor Darrell Ang
Cello Li-Wei Qin
Erhu Ma Xiaohui
Piano Yingdi Sun
Mezzo-Soprano Aoyun Gerile

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QSO celebrates Chinese New Year — The Year of the Monkey!

This joyous program will feature a fusion of traditional Chinese music, great western masterworks and the contemporary genius of Qigang Chen’s dazzling Reflet d’un temps disparu (Reflection of a vanished time) for Cello and Orchestra.... Read more

Concert Information

Grassland Miss You
Aoyun Gerile

Introduction, Chant and Allegro for Erhu and Orchestra
Ma Xiaohui

Totentanz, S.126
Yingdi Sun

Greeting Guests from Afar
Aoyun Gerile

Horse Race
Ma Xiaohui

Cello Concerto, Reflet d’un temps disparu
Li-Wei Qin

The Italian Girl in Algiers, Cruda sorte
Aoyun Gerile

Fountains of Rome
II. The Triton Fountain at Morn
III. The Fountain of Trevi at Midday

Program Notes

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it is known to Chinese speakers, marks the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar, and falls between 21 January and 20 February, depending on the lunar cycle. It is celebrated all over the world by billions of native and diaspora Chinese, with festivities typically lasting for 15 days. The specific customs and traditions vary widely, which is to be expected in a culture comprising dozens of ethnicities and reaching back millennia, but in general the Spring Festival is a time spent with family and friends, enjoying food and exchanging gifts (especially red envelopes containing money), putting up auspicious decorations to ward off bad luck, and participating in rituals designed to invite prosperity and longevity, the most conspicuous of which are the lion dances and fireworks seen in most celebrations throughout the Chinese world.

This concert opens with the first of two folksongs that will be performed by Aoyun Gerile. Aoyun is honoured by her fans in China as a legendary mezzo-soprano and she is renowned for her sweet Inner Mongolian grassland songs.

The ancient, two-stringed erhu has traditionally been used to evoke wistful melancholy or meditative reflection, but in the two pieces featuring it in this concert, the full range of the instrument is explored and realised in a cutting-edge sound world. Yang Liqing’s Introduction, Chant and Allegro is an evocative, whimsical work which embraces and elevates the erhu within a palette which is at once Romantic and modern.

Franz Liszt composed Totentanz (Dance of Death), subtitled ‘Paraphrase on Dies irae’, on and off between 1839 and 1849 and then revised twice in the 1850s. It is his final, most concise and stylistically daring piece for piano and orchestra. Constructed in the form of a theme and variations, it casts the Gregorian plainchant Dies irae (Day of Wrath) from the Mass for the Dead in a demonic guise, though not without moments of spiritual levity.

In Horse Race, written in 1964 by the erhu virtuoso and composer Huang Haihuai, the instrument is pushed to the limit almost as if being ridden by a jockey. Inspired by Mongolian folk music and meant to capture the atmosphere of the horse race at the traditional Naadam festival, Huang imitates the galloping and neighing of the horse through a variety of tremolo, spiccato (jumping bow) and rapid-fire pizzicato techniques.

Reflet d’un temps disparu (Reflection of a vanished time), commissioned in 1995 by Radio France and first performed by Yo-Yo Ma with the National Orchestra of France under Charles Dutoit, is a soulful work full of virtuosic brilliance and haunting beauty. Veering from Impressionism, to Modernism, to Romanticism, Chen uses the techniques and idioms of Western music as a prism through which to glimpse ancient vistas and heavenly realms.

The cavatina ‘Cruda sorte!’ (Cruel fate!) comes from Rossini’s opera The Italian Girl in Algiers. Here the protagonist Isabella laments the danger she faces in attempting to rescue her lover Lindoro from the Bey of Algiers, but regains her composure in realising that the pirates she faces are only men and, therefore, no match for her wits.

Respighi in his Fountains of Rome of 1915-16 sought to capture the atmosphere of contemporary Rome, he was drawn to the music of the past if only by virtue of the antiquity of the city itself. ‘I wonder why no one has ever thought of making the fountains of Rome “sing”,’ he wrote to his wife, ‘for they are, after all, the very voice of the city’. In these movements, Respighi captures the sentiments and imagery suggested by the fountains at the hour in which their character ‘is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape, or their beauty appears most suggestive to the observer’.

Adapted from Douglas Rutherford © 2016



Darrell Ang

Darrell Ang’s triumph at the 50th Besançon International Young Conductor’s Competition, where he took all three top awards – Grand Prize, Audience Prize and Orchestra Prize – launched his international career, leading to the music...
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Li-Wei Qin

Li-Wei Qin has appeared all over the world as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He has enjoyed successful artistic collaborations with leading orchestras including the Rundfunk- Sinfonieorchester Berlin, London Philharmonic, Prague Symphony, BBC...
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Ma Xiaohui

Ma Xiaohui speaks with the world through her erhu (Chinese violin). She is most recognised for her famous duet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the Oscar-winning soundtrack for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in...
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Yingdi Sun

Yingdi Sun won the First Prize in the 7th International Franz Liszt Piano Competition held in Utrecht, the Netherlands in April 2005, the first Chinese pianist to win this prestigious competition. In recent years, Yingdi...
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Aoyun Gerile

Aoyun Gerile is honoured in China as a legendary mezzo-soprano. Since 2000, she has performed internationally as a lead soloist in the China Opera and Dance Drama Theatre (CNODDT). Performance highlights include solos in Aida,...
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Patron: His Excellency Mr Ma Zhaoxu, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Australia
Proudly supported by: Consul General Zhao Yongchen, Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Brisbane.
Friend of BrisAsia Festival