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Press Release:


Press Release:

Tuesday, 12 January, 2016

Guest Conductor Jindong Cai Will Lead the Symphony in Concert

An Afternoon of Festive Celebration Includes Pre- and Post-concert Performances

Two World Premieres Featured on the Program, Including Winning Composition of the 2015–2016 Celebrate Asia Composition Competition

Pianist Charlie Albright Performs Xiaogang Ye’s Starry Sky

Concert Features Performances by Local Korean and Chinese Community Choruses

Photo credit from L to R: Brandon Patoc, Brandon Patoc, Ben vanHouten

Seattle, WA – On January 31, the Seattle Symphony will present Celebrate Asia at Benaroya Hall. Celebrate Asia honors Seattle’s Asian-American community through a concert that explores the rich musical traditions of Asian countries alongside Western classical music. This annual celebration is presented with a myriad of pre- and post-concert activities that reflect various Asian cultures.  Now in its eighth year, Celebrate Asia has become an annual tradition where people and families of all ethnicities come to immerse in an afternoon of cultural exchange and vibrant celebration.

This year’s concert will be led by guest conductor Jindong Cai, chair of Orchestral Studies at Stanford University. The concert opens with Richard Rodgers’ Overture to The King and I, followed by In Hutongs of Peking by Aaron Avshalomov, a piece portraying the narrow alleyways that were once the heart of life in Beijing. The program then features the world premiere of Bai Chuan Fu Hai, the winning composition of this year’s Celebrate Asia Composition Competition, by Shao Zheng.  The title of the piece, which translates as The Rivers and Streams All Rushed to the Ocean, is a Chinese proverb by philosopher Zhu Xi, who once said, “Rivers go to the ocean, but the ocean does not overflow.” The piece paints a vivid picture of countless streams flowing to be joined in the rivers, creating vast movement and chaos. Yet when the rivers ultimately flow into the ocean, all is melded into a peaceful and vast sight of the ocean’s surface. Iranian composer Alireza Motevaseli’s Fantasia for Santoor and Accordion also receives its world premiere performance during the concert, featuring local santoor player Anjali Joshi and accordion player Murl Allen Sanders. The first half of the concert concludes with Starry Sky by Xiaogang Ye, which was premiered at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, featuring local pianist Charlie Albright.

The second half of the concert begins with Tan Dun’s Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds. The piece was commissioned by Carnegie Hall in 2015 and features an audience participation component incorporating smartphones in the musical texture of the piece. “Looking at ancient examples of Chinese music,” Tan Dun wrote, “there are so many compositions that imitate the sounds of nature and, specifically, birds. With this in mind, I decided to start by using six ancient Chinese instruments, the guzheng, suona, erhu, pipa, dizi, and sheng, to record bird sounds that I had composed. I formatted the recording to be playable on cellphones, turning the devices into instruments and creating a poetic forest of digital birds.” During the performance, audiences will be invited to join the performance and play the bird sounds from a previously downloaded app. The remainder of the concert features selections of popular and beloved Korean and Chinese folks songs to be performed by the Korean Music Association Evergreen Choir and the Seattle Chinese Chorus with the Seattle Symphony. On the program are “Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower)”, In Fields of Hope,” New Arirang,” and “Magnolia Blossom.” See below for complete program details.

Pre-concert activities will begin in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby at 3 p.m. Performers include Bellevue Children’s Academy Choir, Kinnaly (Lao Children’s Dance Group), Karoun Dance Ensemble (Persian), and Northwest Kung Fu and Fitness (Chinese Lion Dance). The celebration concludes with post-concert  activities in the Grand Lobby with a performance by CHIKIRI and the School of Taiko and Bollywood dancing led by Rhythms of India. Admission to both pre- and post-concert activities are included with concert ticket.

Complete program notes, artist biographies and additional information can be found by visiting

Photo credit from L to R: Brandon Patoc, Brandon Patoc, Ben vanHouten

About Jindong Cai

Jindong Cai is an orchestra conductor and a professor at Stanford University. He is a leading advocate of music from across Asia and the founding director of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival. A Beijing native, Cai maintains strong ties to his homeland. He has conducted most of the top orchestras in China, as well as orchestras across North America. Together with his wife Sheila Melvin, Cai coauthored the book Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese. Their new book, Beethoven in China, How the great composer became an icon in the People’s Republic, was published by Penguin Books in September 2015. Cai is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was also a conducting fellow at Aspen Music Festival in 1990 and 1992, and studied with famed Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood Music Center in 1989. Cai is a three-time recipient of the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music.

About Shao Zheng

Composer Shao Zheng (b. 1985) is this year’s winner of the Celebrate Asia Composition Competition. After graduating from the Conservatory of Music in his home city of Tianjin, in northeastern China, he came to the United States for post-graduate studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where the composition faculty includes Chen Yi and Zhou Long, two of the leading Chinese-American composers. Working in a wide range of genres, Shao endeavors to write music that merges “intense Chinese culture influences and [his] own unique personality.”

About Celebrate Asia Composition Competition

The Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia Composition Competition invites submissions from up-and-coming composers who find inspiration and influences in Asian culture, music and traditions. After receiving numerous local, national and international submissions, the reviewing committee selected Shao Zheng’s Bai Chuan Fu Hai as the 2016 winner. Shao Zheng was a graduate of the Conservatory of Music in Tianjin, China, and is currently pursuing his post-graduate studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

About Celebrate Asia

In partnership with numerous local community groups, the Seattle Symphony honors and celebrates the city’s Asian community with the eighth annual Celebrate Asia concert. The concept originated when local Asian leaders from the region’s Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese communities wanted to find a way to strengthen bonds with the broader community through a cultural celebration. Now in its eighth year, Celebrate Asia has become an annual signature event in Seattle. For more information about Celebrate Asia, visit

How to Purchase Tickets

Celebrate Asia tickets are available from $20 to $76.

Phone: Call the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office at (206) 215-4747 or toll-free at (866) 833-4747.

Online: Visit to purchase tickets online or use the Seattle Symphony’s iPhone and Android apps.

In Person: Visit the Ticket Office in Benaroya Hall, located at Third Avenue & Union Street.

Ticket Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 1–6 p.m.

Group Sales: To purchase tickets for groups of 10 or more, call (206) 215-4784.

Students/Seniors: Student and senior rush discount tickets, subject to availability, go on sale at the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office two hours prior to matinee performances and at 6pm for evening performances. These must be purchased in person.

Review Tickets & Photography

Photography is not allowed in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium without specific permission. To request live photography of the 2016 Celebrate Asia performance including pre- and post-concert events, media should write to You You Xia at High-resolution press photos from the event will be available to media the day after the concert.



Celebrate Asia

Special Performances

Sunday, January 31, 2016, at 4 p.m.

Jindong Cai, conductor

Charlie Albright, piano

Anjali Joshi, santoor

Murl Allen Sanders, accordion

Yayu Khoe, soprano

Yujin Kim, soprano

Korean Music Association Evergreen Choir

Seattle Chinese Chorus

Seattle Symphony

RICHARD RODGERS                           Overture to The King and I                                                                  

/arr. Edward Powell /trans. Andrew Cottee

AARON AVSHALOMOV                      In Hutongs of Peking

SHAO ZHENG                                     Bai Chuan Fu Hai (World Premiere)

ALIREZA MOTEVASELI                       Fantasia for Santoor and Accordion (World Premiere)

                                                                        ANJALI JOSHI, SANTOOR

                                                                        MURL ALLEN SANDERS, ACCORDION                                       

XIAOGANG YE                                    Starry Sky                                                                                               

                                                                        CHARLIE ALBRIGHT, PIANO


TAN DUN                                            Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds                                              

TRADITIONAL (CHINA)                      “Mo Li Hua” (“Jasmine Flower”)

 /arr. Wei Jin/orch. Zihan Gong                 KOREAN MUSIC ASSOCIATION EVERGREEN CHOIR



TRADITIONAL (KOREA)                      “New Arirang”                                                                                     

/arr. Kyu-Whan Kim                                        YUJIN KIM, SOPRANO

/orch. Phil Young                                          KOREAN MUSIC ASSOCIATION EVERGREEN CHOIR

                                                                        SEATTLE CHINESE CHORUS

DONG-JIN KIM                                   “Magnolia Blossom”                                                                         

/arr. Kyaui Whan Kim                                   KOREAN MUSIC ASSOCIATION EVERGREEN CHOIR             

/orch. Phil Young                                           SEATTLE CHINESE CHORUS


GUANGNAN SHI                                “In Fields Of Hope”                                                                           

/orch. Phil Young                                            YAYU KHOE, SOPRANO                                                          



Presenting Sponsor: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Additional Sponsors: Acucela, Bellevue Children’s Academy, Delta Air Lines, The Nakajima Family, NAREIG, The Atsuhiko & Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation.

The Celebrate Asia Composition Competition is generously underwritten by Yoshi and Naomi Minegishi.

Celebrate Asia is presented as part of the Seattle Symphony’s New Music WORKS initiative, which is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. New Music WORKS features commissions, concerts and educational activities that use composition as a catalyst for collaboration and engagement in music.

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