On Friday 26th February 2021, Ricefield Arts hosted our very first online Chinese New Year Celebration. We celebrated Lantern Festival and the arrival of the Year of the Ox with friends from around the world, while our talented performers showcased the breadth of Chinese culture. The hour-long programme featured live performances of classical dance, martial arts, traditional instruments and lots more.
Watch some of our highlights here:
Philippa Barclay attended the event, and has kindly shared this blog post about her experience.
Ricefield Arts and Cultural Centre and the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) hosted a special Chinese New Year online event to mark the last day of Spring Festival, known as the Lantern Festival. I joined in on the online celebrations from the comfort of my home and am excited to share my experiences of the evening’s festivities.
The online celebration was held over Zoom and attracted over 360 guests joining from across the globe to watch the performances which showcased Chinese culture in a variety of formats including dance, musical instruments, martial arts, song, and poetry.
The event opened with speeches from Else Kek, Chair of Ricefield Arts & Cultural Centre and Fhiona Mackay, Director of CISS. We were then entertained by Shengnan Qiu playing some lively music on the erhu, a Chinese national orchestral instrument, with a vibrant performance of “Onwards and Upwards”.
Next on the programme was an opportunity to experience a powerful martial art display of a complex Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu fighting form called Small Plum Blossom Fist. The form is popular for public events, and Pui Lee’s impressive and complex performance took place outdoors.
We then moved on to some gentle singing by Fong Liu of three melodies which are popular for the Spring Festival period: “Congratulations”, “Sweet Honey” and “Winter Jasmine”. The recital was performed in traditional dress with beautiful lanterns in the background adding to the visual experience. Poetry recitals came next from Xiaochun Shen, with subtitles describing joyful scenes on New Year’s Day and the author’s positive expectations for the year ahead.
An interesting part of the evening was an introduction to a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony showcasing the art of Chinese tea with beautiful Chinese art and music in the background and traditional tea sets. Being an avid tea drinker myself I enjoyed watching Shanshan Jiang’s detailed preparation and the intricate steps involved in presenting and serving the tea.
Lawrence Dunn performed two lively Dai folk songs on the sheng: “Mangshi Dam Tune” and “Wedding Banquet Song”. The sheng is one of the oldest musical instruments in China dating back to 1100 BCE. This was followed by another remarkable Chinese martial arts performance by Hing Fung Teh, this time in the form of a more soothing display of extracts from both the 24 and 42 Steps Tai Chi forms, with guests remarking on “music so peaceful it touches your soul”.
Annie Au gave a wonderful performance of the “Butterfly Lovers” fan dance which is a rendition of a folk tale of two lovers unable to be together who were reunited as butterflies, and lastly the event finished with a lively and upbeat performance from Eddie McGuire. He ended the show with “Purple Bamboo Melody” played on the dizi bamboo flute, accompanied by some chimes.
All in all, it was a lovely opportunity to connect with people from all around the world and experience a really enjoyable evening, getting the chance to experience some of the history of this important annual Chinese festival and the unique and beautiful traditions which accompany it.
We were delighted to partner with the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools for this event, which allowed us to reach new audiences who are engaged in language learning across Scotland.