Orchestras around the country celebrate the Year of the Rooster as Tan Dun tours Australia.

Orchestras across Australia are set to ring in the Year of the Rooster with programmes celebrating traditional Chinese music and complementary Western classical favourites.

In Melbourne, popular Chinese singer Tan Weiwei performs the world premiere of Song Lines, a piece she collaborated on with the contemporary classical composer and conductor Tan Dun. Dun is known for injecting Western music with Chinese musical traditions and mythical subject matter, and this concert reflects his eclectic spirit. He will conduct the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo, Guan Xia’s 100 Birds Flying towards the Phoenix, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919), and his own Concerto for Piano and Peking Opera Soprano Farewell My Concubine. Peking Opera soprano Xiao Di and pianist Ralph van Raat are featured in this tragic tale set during the fall of the Qin Dynasty.

Brisbane-born conductor Dane Lam will lead the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Chinese music and Western favourites. Tan Dun makes an appearance on the programme with Eternal Vow, taken from his Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon concerto. Bao’s The Little Cowherd, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Yang’s The Shepherdess of the Tian Shan Mountains make for a dreamy musical atmosphere. Pianist Piers Lane will be returning to Brisbane with this concert, appearing alongside pipa player Zhao Cong, soprano Yafen, erhu player Ma Xiaohui, and Australian violinist Zoë Black.

Tan Dun will travel to Sydney to present his symphony The Secret Songs of Women with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The piece explores the disappearing ancient language Nu Shu, spoken by women in Hunan, China. Thirteen ‘micro films’ about women’s lives in the Hunan province accompany Secret Songs, while Bartok’s suite from the Miraculous Mandarin ballet complements the cinematic scope of Tan’s composition. Guan Xia’s new folk-inspired piece, A Hundred Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix, features the suona, a traditional Chinese wind instrument, the night ending with Li Huanzhi’s celebratory Spring Festival overture.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra will be celebrating Chinese New Year by hosting the Chinese Music Orchestra, who will be returning to Australia under the baton of Hong Xia, with principal Gaohu soloist Bo Miao. The concert promises to merge traditional Chinese style with contemporary music, in an as yet unannounced programme.


The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will perform East Meets West at Hamer Hall, Melbourne, February 4

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The Queensland Symphony Orchestra will perform Year of the Rooster at Queensland Performing Arts Centre, February 9

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The Sydney Symphony Orchestra will perform Music Under the Moon at Sydney Opera House, February 11

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The Chinese Music Orchestra will perform Treasures of a Nation, at Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, February 14

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