URI to celebrate Chinese New Year, Feb. 21, with performance by Beijing Opera

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KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 9, 2016—Chinese New Year celebrations have already started in China, with fireworks, festivals and food. The University of Rhode Island will ring in 2016 in its own way with a performance Feb. 21 by the Beijing Opera.

The performance will start at 3 p.m. in Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road, on the Kingston campus. A reception with traditional Chinese snack food, paper folding and calligraphy will be held at 2 p.m.

Millions of Chinese people are celebrating the Year of the Monkey this month, the ninth sign in the 12-year Zodiac cycle, between the rooster and the sheep. The celebration is called the Spring Festival in China.

Babies born this year are believed to be bright, quick-witted and self-assured, although they also might be cunning and selfish, according to traditional Chinese belief.

The celebration is sponsored by the Confucius Institute at URI. The performance is free and open to the public, but donations to the institute would be appreciated.

Based at Binghamton University, State University at New York, Beijing Opera tours the country giving traditional Chinese performances. The performers are graduates of Beijing Opera Academy in China.

“The Beijing Opera is considered the highest performing art form in China,” says Wayne He, director of the Chinese Language Flagship Program. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the community see extraordinary traditional Chinese singing and dancing.”

Here are some events:

* The Monkey King Performance, which tells the story of a master monk’s journey to the West during the Tang Dynasty. The performance highlights the Year of the Monkey.

* A Chinese flute solo performed by Shijun Cheng. The piece, “Radiance,” has become one of the most popular ensemble pieces in the Chinese instrumental repertoire. It is widely used as background music for festivals and celebrations.

* “Journey to Suzhou,” a peaceful, flowing song composed in 1962 by Jiang Xianwei. It conjures the beauty and calmness of ancient Suzhou, a southeastern city in China known for its breathtaking classical gardens.

* “Spring Night on a Moonlight River,” a traditional Chinese magic show by Ying Li, who will use red lanterns and interact with the audience.

* Water Sleeve Dance, a Chinese opera dance by Linghui Tu, Liuxiaoshuang Shi and Chan Wang. Water sleeves are white double silk sleeves attached to the cuffs of a costume that convey the performers’ mood.

* “Xiaoshang River,” a Beijing opera excerpt performed by Suosen Lu.

* “Eighteen Songs of Barbarian Pipes,” a Chinese flute and fan dance by Linghui Tu. The piece is a series of Chinese songs and poems about the life of the Han Dynasty.

* A Chinese folk song, “Beautiful Grassland,” performed by Hong Zhang.

The Chinese Culture Club will perform two group dances, including one by children called “The Little Girl Picking Up Mushrooms.” The club is made up of Chinese faculty and staff from URI, and their children.

For more information, contact He at 401-874-4708 or waynewenchaohe@uri.edu. He is also director of the Confucius Institute and a Chinese professor in URI’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

“We hope members of the URI community and beyond come join us for this festive occasion,” says He. “The event gives families an opportunity to celebrate hope for a healthy and prosperous Year of the Monkey.”

Pictured above: Members of the Beijing Opera. Photo courtesy of Wayne He.