SEATTLE, Sept. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Guangdong National Orchestra performed at San Francisco’s Theatre of Fine Arts on September 9-10 and the Seattle Symphony’s Benaroya Hall on September 12-13, blending traditional Chinese and Western elements in a triumphant set of two programs celebrating Chinese history and culture. Each night featured a different program highlighting soloists from both sides of the Pacific.

Erhu master Ms. Cao Yurong from Guangdong National Orchestra of China plays in Benaroya Hall, Seattle, September 12

The opening night in each city showcased a collection of traditional Chinese music titled “Autumn Memory,” featuring a playful flute solo by flutist Chen Dong that captures the sound of the rain in a tropical forest, and an evocative performance by erhu master Cao Yurong that captures the special characteristics of Cantonese music. The performances also featured a joint performance between members of the orchestra and local musicians. The group played the audience back in after intermission with a rendition of traditional Chinese song “Tian Mi Mi.”

The second evening in Seattle began with the delivery of a proclamation by Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim on behalf of the Mayor’s office, declaring September 12 and 13 to be “Chinese Music Day” in honor of the Guangdong National Orchestra’s visit and supporting cross-cultural cooperation between Seattle and China. The night’s program featured the new symphonic work “Silk Road Melody,” written by famous Chinese composer Zhao Jiping. Consisting of seven movements, the epic tells the vibrant story of the establishment of the Maritime Silk Road, an ancient trade route connecting China to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The movements were joined by a common nautical theme, and pulled from different cultures to beautifully illustrate the scenes with music.

The performances concluded with rousing encores that brought the audience to their feet, including spirited versions of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Moon River.”

Produced by the China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG), the performances took place on the one-year anniversary of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2015 visit to the United States. They are part of CAEG’s “Image China” program series, promoting cross-cultural exchange and mutual understanding by bringing Chinese arts and entertainment to new audiences around the world.

“We are so excited to bring the Silk Road Melody overseas for the first time,” said Chen Zuohui, president of the Guangdong National Orchestra of China. “West Coast audiences’ positive reactions to the program showed real enthusiasm for learning about Chinese culture. We look forward to bringing the symphony to new cities, and hope to return to the West Coast soon.”

Guangdong National Orchestra of China

Founded in 1949, the Guangdong National Orchestra of China is among the elite national Chinese folk music performance groups. One of the most influential orchestras in China, the Orchestra has inherited Cantonese-style folk music, and has been dedicated to helping develop and promote it throughout its 67-year history. Most of the orchestra’s 70 musicians are from the Cantonese region, and their deep love and understanding for Cantonese music make them the best and strongest spokespersons for their own cultural heritage. Not only is the Orchestra successfully spreading Cantonese music across China, but over the years they have also brought their performances to a number of other countries, including Singapore, Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

China Arts and Entertainment Group

The China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG), affiliated with China’s Ministry of Culture, is the largest company of its kind in China in the entertainment and arts exhibition field. CAEG was founded in 2004 with the merger of the China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA) and the China International Exhibition Agency (CIEA). The two agencies are China’s largest suppliers and operators of Chinese performing arts and art exhibitions around the globe. For more than 50 years, CPAA and CIEA have accumulated rich experience and cultivated an excellent reputation by taking on thousands of governmental cultural exchange projects and commercial stage performances.

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