Before attending this concert, I had very few expectations for the China NCPA Orchestra, given that I primarily attend classical orchestra concerts. Though this was my first-ever-attended University Musical Society (UMS) event, my initial expectations were still high.
The spotlight of this performance was placed on Wu Man for her rendition of Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra. Although I did not feel as much connection with the orchestra in conjunction with the pipa, I was still moved by the energy and passion that was put into the performance nonetheless. A brief background on Wu Man: she has devoted her career to increasing awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions (hence her use of a Chinese lute that dates back about two thousand years). Man also holds the prestigious Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year award. Given this information, it was no surprise to witness how zealous and emotional Man was while performing.
Though my attention was not fully captivated during the entirety of the concert, there were still plenty of noteworthy moments. For instance, the audience was surprised with not just one, but two additional performances after the formal ending of the concert. Unfortunately, some people did miss what I felt to be the most special performance of the entire night if they left early. The very last piece they played affected me much more than any of the other songs throughout the entire program. This was one of those types of musical pieces that makes you forget where you are as if you’ve somehow been transported to some other time and reality. I even noticed myself temporarily close my eyes just to delve further into the music I was experiencing. After a long, busy school day, hearing that orchestrated composition gave me peace of mind. The lasting impression I hold from that concert has set the bar high for many other orchestra performances to come. Overall, I am appreciative of having had the opportunity to attend such a prestigious event that was much different than what I am most used to at the University.