The Butterfly Lovers Concerto: Celebrating Chinese New Year

  • The Butterfly Lovers Concerto: Celebrating Chinese New Year

Event Category: Classical Music and Culture & Arts

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  • Usher in the Year of the Pig and celebrate the musical legacy of China! Yang Wei, a celebrated pipa player who frequently performs with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, performs the beloved Butterfly Lovers Concerto, one of the most popular pieces of Chinese music ever written. With help from UB’s Confucius Institute, it’s sure to be a festive afternoon. Come at 1:30 PM to hear directly from the artists in Musically Speaking.

    Ken Lam, conductor
    Yang Wei, pipa

    HE ZHANHAO/CHEN GANG Butterfly Lovers Concerto
    BORODIN In the Steppes of Central Asia
    STRAVINSKY Song of a Nightingale

    About Ken Lam

    Music Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, USA and newly appointed Music Director of the Illinois Symphony, conductor, Ken Lam also holds the posts of Resident Conductor of the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, Artistic Director of Hong Kong Voices and Conductor Laureate of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras.

    Winner of the 2011 Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s International Conducting Competition and a featured conductor in the League of American Orchestra’s 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductors Preview with the Nashville Symphony, Maestro Lam made his US professional debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in June 2008 as one of four conductors at the invitation of Leonard Slatkin. In recent seasons he has led performances with the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati, Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis, Illinois, Hawaii and Meridian, as well as the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Guiyang Symphony and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

    Ken Lam studied conducting with Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar at Peabody Conservatory. David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute. He read economics at St. John’s College, Cambridge University and was an attorney specializing in international finance for ten years before becoming a conductor.

    About Yang Wei

    Yang Wei’s musical education began at the early age of 6. As a young student of music, he received instruction in several different classical Chinese instruments. At 13, the decision was made to concentrate his considerable talents upon mastering the pipa. The years of study and dedication began to pay off when, at 18, he performed as a soloist with the National Shanghai Orchestra. This accomplishment was followed by his achievement of the ART Trophy First Prize for the International Chinese Musical Instruments Competition, in the Young Professional Pipa Section, which he was awarded in 1989.

    As a professional musician, he has been celebrated worldwide, performing for and inspiring audiences throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. His professional activities have included performing as a soloist with various orchestras and in various ensembles, teaching and participating in educational programs in both public and educational settings. Since 2000, Yang Wei has toured with the acclaimed Silk Road Project, performing alongside world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In the United States, he has performed at such known venues as the Ravinia International Music Festival, the Kimmel Center, the Lincoln Center and the Chicago Symphony Center. In addition to these performances, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Art Institute of Chicago and has led international music lectures. He has been instrumental in commissioning new works by well-known composers such as Bright Sheng, Zhu Jianer, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Yao Chen.

    In 1996, Yang Wei moved permanently to the United States, making his home in the Chicago area. Yang Wei’s artistic perspective is an interesting one that honors the musical heritage of his homeland in China, but also combines the Western influences of his new home. He has engaged in various collaborations with other artists, blending the sound of his pipa with western instruments and themes. He is noted for, and has been enthusiastically received for, his collaboration of the pipa with the double bass in the ensemble group he formed called Qi Lin.

    Additional accomplishments include a Fellowship in Ethnic and Folk Arts by the Illinois Arts Council in 2006, and a residency at the Humanity Institute of the University of Michigan in 2006 and 2007. Also in 2007, Yang Wei sponsored a major collaborative performance with his great mentor, Master Liu Dehai, at the Art Institute of Chicago. He has appeared on the David Letterman Show and on Good Morning America with the Silk Road Project, with which he also performed in Europe in 2007.

    Mr. Yang continues to develop his art through comprehensive study, as well as through his involvement in timely and new collaborations. He is committed to sharing his music with the community around him and continues to be interested in exploring the possibilities created by blending his eastern instrument with western influences and themes.

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