Liverpool Confucius Institute holds first Chinese New Year Gala since lockdown
On 27 January, the Liverpool Confucius Institute held its annual Chinese New Year Gala at the Tung Auditorium for the first time in three years.
The New Year Gala has been running since 2016 but had to have a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
With performances from local schools, university students and professionals, the audience was treated to over two hours of diverse and multicultural entertainment.
Dr Penny Ding, deputy director of the Liverpool Confucius Institute, said: “It has been several years since we were able to celebrate Chinese New Year at the Liverpool Confucius Institute.
“Our staff and the Tung Auditorium worked tirelessly to prepare for the Chinese New Year Gala, and so we were all thrilled by the quality of the show.
“Every single one of the performers demonstrated incredible enthusiasm, and relished in the opportunity to show off their talents in a celebration of cultural exchange.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to be involved in such an event.”
Presenters Billy Hui and Yuqiao (Rayna) Cai started off the event by introducing the gala to the audience.
Jinlong School of Martial Arts opened the act with a Lion Dance. In Chinese culture, the lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to business.
The martial arts school then went on to deliver a martial arts demonstration by its students.
Next to take to the stage was Calday Grange Grammar School. Students performed a traditional Chinese song called ‘Shaonian Zhongguo Shou’, which is about the power of the younger generation.
Wei Gan, from Calday Grange Grammar School, said: “It was an unforgettable experience for all of Calday Grange Grammar School’s Year 7 pupils. We are looking forward to cooperating with the Confucius Institute again!”
St Julie’s Catholic High School performed the legend of Hua Mulan through a ballet performance.
Hua Mulan was a women from the ancient Wei Dynasty 2,500 years ago. She defined convention and disguised herself as a man to take her aged father’s place in the army.
The students of St Nicholas’ Academy then performed ‘Gongxi Gongxi’ and ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’. The children astonished the audience with their perfect pronunciation of Chinese words.
Martin Davies, headteacher at St Nicholas Catholic Academy, said: “What a truly fabulous afternoon it was, it was a real pleasure to be part of it and watch the rich variety of performances from across the age groups showcasing their different talents. I felt very privileged to be there.”
Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School then delivered dramatised versions of two ancient Chinese stories: ‘Nian’ and ‘Nie Jingtai’.
Nian, which means ‘year’ in Mandarin Chinese, tells the story of a legendary beast which terrorised the people of China at the beginning of each new year.
The beast was afraid of loud noises, bright lights, and the colour red, so these were used to frighten the beast away.This is why in modern China, the new year is celebrated with red decorations, fireworks, and loud music and dance.
Nie Jingtai, or ‘The Mirror People’, tells the story of a Chinese legend that mirrors are windows to a parallel world. The people living in the mirror universe were thought to be evil versions of ourselves.
Somehow, the mirror people escaped and began invading our world, killing humans as they went. Eventually, the Yellow Emperor (Huang Gi) managed to trap the leader of the mirror people and cast a powerful spell to imprison them in the mirror universe once again.
The mirror people were then cursed to mimic the movements of their human counterparts.
In addition to the school children, several university students performed in the gala. Liverpool Hope University student Anna Ho performed ‘Feux d’artifice’ (Fireworks) by Claude Debussy.
Professor Stephen Davismoon, Dean of School of Creative and Performing Arts and Head of Creative Campus at Liverpool Hope University, said: “It was such a wonderful afternoon, and our students had a fabulous experience too.”
Ruoxi Wang, Jialing Yang, and Yan Liu, accompanied by Lee Ward on piano, sang ‘Wo Ai Ni Zhongguo’ (I Love You China).
Tian, a band formed by members of Pagoda Arts, delivered a stunning ensemble of Chinese-Western fusion music. With a range of traditional Chinese and modern Western instruments used, the performance was a demonstration of musical talent.
Zilan Liao, Chief Executive Officer of Pagoda Arts, said: “A big thank you. Many congratulations to the event. It is a well organised event. We are more than happy to be a part of it again.”
All those who attended left very positive feedback.
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