The outburst of Western classical music in China over the past decade has been called nothing short of a frenzy by some observers. Estimates vary widely, but it's reported that somewhere between 50 and 100 million Chinese children are studying piano, violin and other Western instruments. One piano manufacturer alone, the Pearl River Company, builds around 100,000 pianos per year.
The cultural exchange has also been felt in the U.S. Many of today's most celebrated Chinese composers now live here, and Chinese musicians are becoming increasingly visible — not only in Western music schools but on the international stage.
Arguably, the most popular classical pianist today is Lang Lang. Originally from the northeastern city of Shenyang, the 29-year-old sensation is now based in New York.
As a preview to the New York Philharmonic's festive Chinese New Year concert tomorrow night (also webcast on this site), Lang Lang joins the Mongolian children's choir Quintessenso this evening for a live video webcast hosted by WQXR's David Garland. The performance at the Greene Space in New York features the choir in traditional songs for the New Year.
The choir of 37 children comes from five ancient tribes in the high steppes of the Hulun Buir grasslands in extreme Northeast China. They sing more than 40 traditional folk tunes and nursery rhymes from their region. Tomorrow marks their New York Philharmonic debut, and we're pleased to be able to share them with a wider audience through these webcasts. It's part of a week-long Chinese music celebration, "China in New York," on WQXR.