Feature: Chinese element in Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2)

08:38, December 09, 2009      

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"Later on I met many young musicians from China and they told me that my winning of this position gave them inspiration and encouragement. Now I look around this great orchestra, and I am so happy to see the younger generation not only doing so well, but even better."

Following the footstep of Chang, Sanduo Xia became the second Chinese musician from the Chinese mainland to win the honor in 1989, and started playing violin with the orchestra. She had a very unique experience before coming to the United States.

"I went through the Cultural Revolution in China. I was sent down to rural areas and worked at farms to plant rice. Looking at my hands I was not even sure when I could play violin again, let alone to dream that one day I can play at the world famous orchestra. So I am very grateful," Xia said.

Among the young generation of Chinese musicians in the CSO, Lei Hou and Qing Hou definitely made a big splash when they both successfully auditioned in 1997 and joined the orchestra as sisters at the same time.

Currently, the Hou sisters have a brother who plays as a substitute musician in the orchestra, and Qing Hou's husband is a member as well. Their proud parents often come to listen to their performances.

Lei Hou, the older sister, said: "When I went to college at 18 years old, I listened to a CD by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I was so excited about the music, but even in my wildest dreams I never believed that I would play with this wonderful orchestra myself. Even today, whenever we play that music piece that I heard when I was 18, I can still vividly remember how I felt back then."

Qing Hou agreed with her elder sister: "I am very lucky and honored to play here. We enjoy touring around the world. This January we went to China to perform and I was so proud and happy to play for my teachers and former classmates."

Yuanqing Yu, a violinist at the orchestra who joined in 1995, said: "I am so happy to work with so many Chinese colleagues. Four of us were taught by the same teacher in Shanghai, which we discovered after we were already here."

Ni Mei, the youngest one of the Chinese musicians, joined the CSO less than two years ago. She said: "I am so excited to play violin in the orchestra. My father is a conductor and I have been listening to CDs by the CSO since I was a little girl, but never thought I could have the honor to play here."

In January 2009, following two decades of effort, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra finally took its first historic trip to China and achieved great success in Shanghai and Beijing.

"Only a few days ago I was informed that we won the prestigious music award in Shanghai in the most important categories, 'Concert of the Year' and 'Conductor of the Year.' I will be there in mid-December to receive the award on behalf of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra," Chang said.

Music, as a universal language, has played an important role in promoting cultural exchange and understanding. As a member of the CSO, Chang believes that he, as well as his fellow musicians, are in a very unique position to enhance U.S.-China relations.

"No relationship between two countries in this century is more important than that of China and the United States. As Chinese musicians, we can play an even more effective role to push and nurture and enhance this relationship. You can really touch people's hearts and change people's minds. We should really treasure the opportunity to achieve this goal," he said. 

Source: Xinhua
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