Xiaoshuijing Farmers’ Chorus make international debut, as part of Chinese New Year celebrations with Long Yu

This week, the Xiaoshuijing Farmers’ Chorus will perform outside China for the very first time as part of major Chinese New Year celebrations with Maestro Long Yu, including concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

About the chorus

Established in 2002 in the mountains of Southern China, the Xiaoshuijing Farmers’ Chorus, led by choirmaster Long Guangyuan, comprises 50 farmers of the Miao ethnic minority. No member has ever received any professional vocal training, instead absorbing the Western Baroque and bel canto singing traditions introduced by Christian missionaries in the 1930s by word of mouth over the course of generations.

Since its inception, the choir – which performs in ethnic dress indigenous to this part of the Yunnan Province – has received widespread recognition across China. Among its numerous awards are first prizes in the inaugural China Western Choral Festival, First Yunnan Nie Er Music Week, First Kunming Nie Er Cup Chorus Festival, and the National Farmers’ Chorus Festival in Guangzhou. The choir has toured throughout China and has collaborated with international ensembles, including the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The choir resides in Xiaoshuijing, a small Fumin county village of 158 families. In 2007 Xiaoshuijing was designated the Pilot Village of New Rural Construction in Kunming, aiming to increase agricultural production and improve living standards.

International debut

The chorus will make their international debut at the New York Philharmonic’s Lunar New Year Gala tonight, in a programme which includes the American premiere of Ricochet, for ping pong, violin, percussion, and orchestra. They will then embark on a five-date UK tour which culminates with the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Chinese New Year concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Both tonight’s concert in New York and the RFH concert will be conducted by Long Yu.

Next week’s concert at the Royal Festival Hall is presented by Askonas Holt, KT Wong Foundation and Philharmonia Orchestra and will feature 13-year-old pianist Serena Wang in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, plus Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, and traditional Yunnan folk songs.

The chorus’ solo performances in Oxford, London, Birmingham and Liverpool will feature traditional Yunnan folk songs, plus excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, and will be conducted by Long Guangyuan.

Conductor Long Yu is renowned for creating opportunities for Western audiences to hear rarely-performed Chinese repertoire, such as his tour with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra last May featuring Xiaogan Ye’s Cantonese Suite for Orchestra, and Lin Zhao’s Duo for cello, sheng and orchestra. In addition, he conducted the Tonhalle Zürich Chinese New Year concert earlier this month, with Maxim Vengerov performing The Butterfly Lovers Concerto by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, and a Peking opera called The Drunken Beauty.

A frequent guest of the Philharmonia, Long will return in November 2018, bringing an all-Russian programme to the Royal Festival Hall alongside AH cellist Jian Wang.

We are excited to be working with the Xiaoshuijing Farmers’ Chorus, and look forward to welcoming them to the UK later this week!

UK tour details & tickets

  • Saturday 24 February – Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford – Tickets
  • Sunday 25 February – China Exchange, London – Tickets
  • Monday 26 February – Liverpool Philharmonic, Music Room – Tickets
  • Tuesday 27 February – Birmingham Symphony Hall – Tickets
  • Thursday 1 March – Royal Festival Hall, London – Tickets

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