The San Francisco Symphony rings in the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dragon Saturday, February 11 at its 12th Annual Chinese New Year Concert and Celebration in Davies Symphony Hall. The celebrations begin with a Festival Reception at 3:00 p.m., followed by the Orchestra concert at 4:00 p.m., and conclude with the Chinese New Year Imperial Dinner in the Grand Rotunda of City Hall.

This year’s concert consists entirely of Chinese and Chinese-American composers, whose works incorporate traditional Chinese music and traditions into the Western orchestral style. The program also features a world premiere by Huang Ruo, commissioned by the SFS. Conductor Carolyn Kuan leads the Chinese New Year concert for the sixth year in a row, and is joined by renowned sheng player Hu Jianbing. The sheng, commonly called the Chinese mouth organ, features a bundle of seventeen to thirty-six pipes seated on a small wind chamber. Hu Jianbing performs Huang Ruo’s Yellow Earth for Sheng and Orchestra. Pianist Jie Chen is also featured on the program in Yellow River Piano Concerto, written by a committee of composers in 1969 at the request of Chairman Mao Zedong’s government. Other works on the program include Mao Yuan’s Dance of the Yao People, Dance of the Golden Snake by Nie Er and arranged by A Ke Jian, and Bright Sheng’s From the Savage Land from Postcards.

The 3:00 p.m. Festival Reception is free to all ticketholders and provides family-friendly entertainment and activities, including children’s arts and crafts, lion dancing, and Chinese calligraphy, and complimentary food, desserts and tea in the Davies Symphony Hall lobbies.

The elegant Chinese New Year Imperial Dinner, inspired by the rich visual pageantry of New Year celebrations, will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the grand Rotunda at San Francisco’s City Hall. The Chinese New Year Celebration is chaired by Iris Chan and Sharon Seto, and is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor Bank of America. Dinner tickets are sold separately.

January 23, 2012 begins the Year of the Dragon. Occupying the 5th position in the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon is the mightiest of the signs. Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Those born in 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, and 1940 were born under the sign of the Dragon.

Carolyn Kuan returns to conduct the San Francisco Symphony Chinese New Year Concert for the sixth year in a row this year. The 2011-12 season is Kuan’s first as Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Prior to taking the Hartford position, she was the Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. She has also been Artist-in-Residence with the New York City Ballet, Assistant Conductor of the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, and Assistant Conductor of the Baltimore Opera Company. A keen advocate of new music, she has served as Assistant Conductor for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music under Music Director Marin Alsop since 2003. She was the first woman to be awarded the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship by the Herbert von Karajan Centrum and the American Austrian Foundation in 2003. Highlights of her 2011-2012 season include debut concerts with the Residentie Orkest, Royal Danish Orchestra, and the Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra; a return engagement with the Baltimore Symphony; and a second recording project for Naxos. Carolyn Kuan has helped raised awareness of conservation and the environment through the multimedia production Life: A Journey Through Time. The project, developed by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, features music by Philip Glass and images by famed photographer Frans Lanting. She is a native of Taiwan.

Jie Chen entered The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at the age of 12, made her orchestral debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch at 16, and released her first album at 19. She won top prizes in 11 international competitions, including the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master in Israel, the Santander Paloma O’Shea competition in Spain, and the Van Cliburn Piano Competition. She is a frequent soloist with major orchestras, including the Israel Philharmonic, Warsaw Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Keen on promoting Chinese musical culture and collaborating with Chinese musicians, Jie Chen devoted her first album to Chinese works for solo piano, released by NAXOS to great critical acclaim. Her composition debut, The Butterfly Lover Piano Concerto, will be recorded for an early 2012 release.

San Francisco Bay Area Arts and CultureSan Francisco Symphony 12th Annual Chinese New Year Concert & Celebration

Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA

Saturday, February 11, 2012
3:00 p.m. – Festival Reception
4:00 p.m. – Chinese New Year Concert
6:00 p.m. – Imperial Dinner (tickets sold separately)

Carolyn Kuan conductor
Hu Jianbing sheng
Jie Chen piano
San Francisco Symphony

Traditional Lion Dance
Mao Yuan Dance of the Yao People
Huang Ruo Yellow Earth for Sheng and Orchestra
Huang Ruo TBD Folksongs (SFS Commission – world premiere)
Nie Er (arr. A Ke Jian) Dance of the Golden Snake
Bright Sheng From the Savage Land from Postcards
Chu Wang-Hua, Liu Zhuang, Sheng Li Hong, Shi Shucheng, Xu Fei-sheng, Yin Chengzang Yellow River Piano Concerto

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear