Ode to the Yellow River

41 members of the Ottawa Chinese You-In choir who participated in the “Ode to the Yellow River Symphony Night” in Toronto (9th November 2002 at the prestigious Massey Hall) were exceedingly glad to perform in the Yellow River Cantata Choir with the 70 members strong Toronto Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Lai is its Founder, Music Director and Conductor.

From a community perspective, the Symphony Night was a proud display of diverse talents in vocal, in choral and in instrumental music on the one hand and a demonstration of the cooperative spirit to excel among different music societies within the Chinese community in the Greater Toronto Area on the other. Through music and songs of historical events, audiences of Chinese decent were reminded of their proud Chinese heritage and identity. (Youtube)

photo2500 seats out of 2800 were sold. The Orchestra started the Night off with a masterpiece composed by the Chinese-Canadian composer Au-Lun Huang. The Symphonic Poem Bayanhar Opus.50 (1991) depicts the birth and formation of the Yellow River in the Bayanhar Mountain on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is along its bank that eventually gives rise to a great civilization of the Mighty Middle Kingdom. Next, came performances by internationally and locally acclaimed professional soloists. Xiaoping Hu, a very lovely Soprano, beautifully executed with tender feeling ‘I love you China and Aria Di Elvira’. ‘Over the Ocean and Mephistopheles’ Serenade’ were performed majestically by Hao Jiang Tian, an exceptionally forceful Bass whose solid voice is one of its kinds. Colin Yip, a Tenor whose soft and soothing voice always command a ready audience due to its hypnotic effect, performed ‘Dien ist Mein Ganzes Herz’ in German. Ching Zou, a tall and handsome Baritone whose rich clear voice has a touch of Oriental flavor, performed with ease the ‘River is running east’. Finally, the 200 members Yellow River Cantata Choirs, an ensemble of eight Chinese music societies of which one was from Ottawa, finished the Night with the ‘Yellow River Cantata’, a time honored favorite of choice in vocal music for Chinese concerts since its debut in 1939. Tung Chen, a professional stage verse reader, performed exceedingly well the prelude verse of each of the seven movements of the Cantata.

The Cantata Choirs re-created through music and songs virtual images back in time of the struggle and determination of peace-loving people in China, rising up against the brutal oppression during the Second World War by the Imperial Army of Japan. Throughout its performance, the air in the Massey Hall was permeated and resonated with a single voice of force that brought out the intended impact of the Yellow River Cantata. Based on audience’s response and applause, the Ode to the Yellow River Symphony Night was a smashing success. Credits should be given to members of all levels of management of contributing music societies that helped to stage the concert. Indirectly, the success was a reflection of a Community Spirit within the Chinese music societies in the Greater Toronto Area. Such a model of cooperation may be applicable to Chinese music societies in Ottawa.

Bio: Tak-Ng Lai

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