Review: Chinese Ethnic New Year Gala. Royal Concert Hall. Nottingham

The Chinese Ethnic New Year Gala 2017 held at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (9th February 2017) keeps its publicity promises. It is a dazzling cascade of folk-art, ranging from Uyghur, Tibetan, Manchu to Kazakh, Zhuang, Korean and more.

The evening begins with four smart young hosts welcoming the audience and wishing us a “Happy Chinese New Year”. This year is the year of the Rooster and the acts tonight are plenty to crow about including the Mongolian superstar Teng Geer.


The China Ethnic Song and Dance Ensemble are based in Beijing and are the only national-level performance group representing China’s ethnic minorities. With its roots firmly based in a broad and diverse cultural and artistic heritage the ensemble is currently comprised of dancers and musicians from thirty Chinese minority groups. To date, the ensemble has performed in more than seventy countries. Annually, it gives more than a hundred performances in China and has the rare distinction of selling out every performance.

Before the acts begin there are short speeches from Dr Jian Chen executive and acting director of the Nottingham Confucius Institute, Mr Ian Curryer chief executive Nottingham City Council, Professor Nick Miles Pro- Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement – University of Nottingham and Mr Li Guoqiang 1st Secretary of the Education Sector at The Chinese Embassy.

A fascinating evening of dance, music and song is delivered by the passionate members of the ensemble. Each in their own way, express their passions for their culture, their lives and and their love of nature. A large screen above the performances serves to visually enhance the musicians’ work.

The entertainment begins with a lively folk dance celebrating the beauty of Spring followed by the Uyghar Aijieka guitar solo by Adili Abulizi and his band, a highlight of which is ‘The Spring of Xinjiang’. Things get very lively with the Tibetan song and dance ‘Happy Tibetans.’ Both pieces are majestic, moving, choreographically terrific and receive great applause from the mixed nationality audience. Tibetan vocalist Awang Luosangdunzhu wows with the powerful ‘Road To Heaven’.

One of the most moving parts of the evening is the single string instrument solo by female Zhuang musician Lei Zing. Zing takes us to mystical heights with her poignant ‘The Wind That Sweeps Over The Bridge’ and the English folk song ‘Green-sleeves’ . Three local girls are invited up on to the stage to ‘have a go’ on the delicate instrument.

MP070214AH2 UoN Chinese New Year Gala at Concert Hall. Performance at the Royal Concert Hall. Picture by Andrew Hallsworth.
UoN Chinese New Year Gala at Concert Hall.
Performance at the Royal Concert Hall.
Picture by Andrew Hallsworth.

We move over to Mongolia and a filmic feast of wild Mongolian horses in all their natural beauty. Musician Zhang Duo gets the pulses racing with his sterling playing of the horse hair fiddle. The pieces are ‘Galloping Horses’ and the musically divine ‘Hungarian Csárdás. As the interval approaches six beautiful and graceful female dancers enchant with the floral Kazakh dance ‘A Lovely Rose’.

Dressed in a stunning glittering gold dress and emerald green jacket, famous Zhuang Opera soprano Mu Linlin impresses with her top class operatic voice with the songs ‘Swallow’ and the more well known ‘Water Nymph – Rusalka.’

The run up to the finale brings us a fabulously costumed Korean drum dance by dancer Piao Gengwu and the amazing percussive skills from the Uygar region via tambourine player Yillyaer Ayoufu. The long anticipated Mongolian vocalist Teng Geer is mightily impressive in his two numbers ‘Heaven’ and ‘Mongol.’ The very enjoyable evening ends with the Folk Dance Ensemble giving their all in the ‘Carp Leaping Over The Dragon Gate’ number.


As the Chinese New Year begins we hope that the Year of The Rooster brings us good health, good luck and as much happiness as this splendid ensemble have given us this evening at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall.

Phil Lowe

Originally written for Nottingham Post.

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