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Chinese performing troupes bring Chinese New Year festivities to Chicago

  CHICAGO, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Two performing troupes from China gave a concert in Chicago, elevating the citywide Chinese New Year celebrations with more festivity and high quality performances.

  The Hubei Chime Bells National Chinese Orchestra and the China National Peking Opera Company put on performances at the audience-packed Chicago Symphony Center Sunday afternoon, featuring traditional chime bells, music and well recognized opera pieces.

  Their performances were met with constant applause from the audience.

  "Our annual Chinese New Year Celebration concert has become a highly anticipated tradition at the Symphony Center," said Jeff Alexander, president of Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

  "We are pleased to have the opportunity to present some of the best artists from China," he said.

  Alexander said that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has just finished a well-received performance tour in Shanghai and Beijing, and this year marked the fifth annual Chinese New Year concert presented by the Chicago Symphony Presents.

  Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai wished everyone a happy new year before the performances started. He praised the CSO for being "one of the pioneers" and "playing a key role in China-U.S. cultural exchanges."

  The Hubei Chime Bells National Chinese Orchestra, dressed in traditional costumes, showcased chime bells with authentic, melodious timbre, along with other traditional Chinese instruments such as Zheng, Ruan and Pipa. The familiar tune of "A Moonlit Night on the Spring River" made many American Chinese nostalgic.

  The China National Peking Opera Company presented three scenes from the Peking Opera repertoire, namely "Divergence," "Palace of Eternal Life" and "Uproar in Heaven," a classic Chinese story that follows the adventures of the Monkey King, featuring instrumental music, vocal performance, dance and acrobatics.

  Celebrated Peking Opera performers Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu acted as Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty and Yang Yuhuan in the "Palace of Eternal Life," a story focusing on the everlasting love story of the Tang Dynasty emperor and his favorite concubine, drawing prolonged applause and cheers.

  "The costume is beautiful, and the music powerful," said Beth Schenker, a Chicagoan.

  Schenker said the wonderful performances made her feel she was part of the community and part of the celebration.

  Ivan Kovacevic from Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago, brought his whole family, including a 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. He exchanged his regular CSO season tickets for the concert, so as to have "an opportunity to be exposed to Chinese culture."

  "It's the first time I attended a Chinese concert," he said. "I couldn't believe the sound and size of the instruments."

  "This is such a wonderful show," said Lyric Hughes Hale, a Chicago resident. "The (U.S.) Midwest has strong ties with China in multiple levels: business, culture, people to people. This is a good manifestation."