St George’s Hall hosts Liverpool Confucius Institute’s Chinese New Year Gala

On Friday 9 February, the Liverpool Confucius Institute (LCI) hosted its annual Chinese New Year Gala in the historic St George’s Hall.

As the inaugural event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Liverpool-Shanghai sisterhood, the gala was a vibrant celebration, not only of the lunar new year, but also of the enduring relationship between our two cities.

Mr Kong Fu’An, the director of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, gave a recorded speech in which he extended New Year greetings and expressed his wishes for the continuation of a long and prosperous relationship between Liverpool and Shanghai.

Liverpool might be home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe, but the gala, which aimed to celebrate diversity and inclusion, showcased a range of talents. From enthusiastic schoolchildren and skilled university students, to dedicated community groups and seasoned professionals, the LCI welcomed them all onto the stage.

Amongst an audience of nearly 600, was the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, who remarked on the cultural significance of the event; Cllr Liam Robinson, the leader of the Liverpool City Council; Consular Liang Yan of the Chinese Consulate in Manchester; Prof Gavin Brown, pro-vice chancellor for education at the University of Liverpool; and Mr Gary Millar, president of the Liverpool-China Partnership.

(L-R) Prof Gavin Brown, Prof Alison Fell, Dr Penny Ding, Cllr Erica Kemp CBE, Mrs Karen Brown, Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, and Consular Liang Yan
(L-R) Prof Gavin Brown, Prof Alison Fell, Dr Penny Ding, Cllr Erica Kemp CBE, Mrs Karen Brown, Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, and Consular Liang Yan © Gareth Jones

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE said: “It was a truly memorable occasion and thoroughly enjoyable.”

But it was the performers who were the true heart and soul of the gala. The audience was treated to an evening of fantastic entertainment, with acts ranging from martial arts displays and drama performances, to piano recitals and choral singing.

Dr Penny Ding, the UK Deputy director of the Liverpool Confucius Institute, remarked: “As the artistic director and producer of Liverpool’s Chinese New Year gala, I had the privilege of orchestrating a celebration of diversity and friendship at the heart of our city.

“With more than 120 performers, we transformed St George’s Hall into a stage of vibrant cultures and shared talents.

“This event, supported by St George’s Hall, the Confucius Institute, University of Liverpool, Liverpool Hope University, and our local community, symbolises our collective achievements and the power of unity.”

Although every single performance was received with raucous applause and huge smiles from the audience, the best was saved for last: a twenty-foot-long golden dragon, lit from the inside, and expertly manipulated by six martial artists. The dragon flew around the Great Hall, inspiring awe and delight in everyone who saw it.

One member of the audience said: “WOW, what a night! We will attend again next year.

“Singing, dancing, martial arts and so much more. The talent was outstanding. What a way to spend Chinese New Year’s Eve!”

Jane Fleming, head of education at Jelli Studios Glee Choir, said: “Our students had the most incredible evening celebrating and witnessing the richness and beauty of Chinese culture. It was such an honour to be part of this amazing evening, in our amazing city.”

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