The Bard Youth China Orchestra (BYCO), featuring talented young performers of traditional Chinese instruments, will perform two free debut concerts Friday, August 24, at Bard College and Saturday, August 25, at Harvard University. Presented by the US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music, in partnership with the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, the concerts will feature more than 50 musicians, aged 13-22, who have come together for a two-week summer academy on the Bard campus.
Led by Artistic Codirectors Jindong Cai and Yu Hongmei, with distinguished faculty from the Central Conservatory, the academy is an innovative program combining intensive training in traditional Chinese instruments, English language instruction, and an American cultural experience.
The concerts, conducted by Jindong Cai, feature a range of works for orchestra, from the classical to the modern. Ancient pieces include the traditional “Ambush from All Sides” (十面埋伏). Modern compositions by three contemporary female composers—Jiang Ying, Wang Danhong, and the academy’s own guzhengprofessor, Zhou Wang—will highlight the expressive new tradition in Chinese orchestral works. Zhou, who composed “Fantasy on a Western Theme” with her husband, Huang Zhenyu, will perform as soloist. The concerts will also feature a solo performance on suonaby academy faculty member Zhang Weiwei. The free concerts take place on August 24 at 8 p.m. in the Sosnoff Theater in the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and on August 25 at 3 p.m. in Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Reservations requested. For Bard tickets, please contact the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit fishercenter.bard.edu. For the Harvard performance, call 617-496-2222 or visit boxoffice.harvard.edu.
The Bard Youth Chinese Orchestra concerts give talented young Chinese musicians the opportunity to perform in the United States, and US audiences an opportunity to hear music rarely performed outside of China. The BYCO bring their enthusiasm and vitality to the stage in a nontraditional form: a full orchestra of Chinese instruments. Modeled on the Western symphony orchestra tradition, this form has roots in efforts during the 1950s to show the strength of Chinese musical traditions and innovation. After nearly 70 years, the format continues to flourish in China and beyond. This is a rare opportunity to hear a full Chinese orchestra perform in the West.
The US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music was formed in 2017 with the goal of creating a major platform in the United States for the study, performance, and appreciation of contemporary Chinese music. In partnership with the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, it has embarked on a five-year Chinese Music Development Initiative, which will aid in the promotion of Chinese music through an undergraduate degree program at the Bard Conservatory, the annual China Now Music Festival each October at Bard and in New York City, an annual scholarly conference in the spring, and the Bard Youth Chinese Orchestra Summer Academy each August. For more information, visit barduschinamusic.org.