Chinese Classical Orchestra | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chinese Classical Orchestra 

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For the past 15 years, as the head of the locally based Chinese Music Society of North America, Shen Sin-yan has been dispelling the impression that the traditional music of his native country is nothing more than quaint exotica. In fact, his expertise and his effort to heighten appreciation of the music's sophistication have earned him and his "silk-and-bamboo" ensemble trips to Europe, Japan, and even China. Tonight as part of an international music conference taking place in the Palmer House, Shen and his orchestra will offer a lengthy recital highlighting the astonishing variety of genres and regional styles of the Chinese "classical," or court, tradition, which has continued more or less unbroken for 7,000 years. On the program are "Autumn Moon on the Lake" (southern China), "Bow Dance" (rebellious music from Hunan meant to challenge the emperor), "Moon Crescent Before Dawn" (northeastern China), "Deep is the Night" (Peking opera), "Rain Drops on the Plantain" (ancient southern Chinese tune), "Song of the Border Village" (southwestern China). His highly praised orchestra uses a large array of lead instruments, including the pipa (grand lute), yangqin (grand dulcimer), jinghu (vertical bamboo fiddle), bawu (bamboo lute), and erhu (vertical python-skin fiddle). Shen, a daredevil virtuoso on the last, will preface each piece with a brief explanation of its historical and cultural context. Tonight, 7:30 PM, Grand Ballroom, Palmer House. 17 E. Monroe; 708-910-1551 or 708-491-5441.

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