Philadelphia’s Chinese Opera Society performs at KU

By Donovan Levine
Freeform Editor

On Feb. 10, the annual Chinese Lunar New Year celebration took place in the Multipurpose room of the MSU, hosted jointly by KUAB and the Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society. The event was at 6 p.m. and held a special celebration for the beginning of the 2020 New Year on the traditional Chinese calendar. 2020 is the Zodiac Year of the Rat, which is said to bring desirable fortune and good omens.

The room was decorated with red-and-yellow paper-made adornaments and Chinese lamps hanging from the stage drop, the walls, the entrance and the dividers. Roughly 80-90 people attended the event this year.

Photo credit to Michael Rubinstein

The night began with a solo dance performance synced with a pre-made lyric video of a Chinese ballad or traditional song and then featured an animated video introducing the cultural significance of New Year celebration.

The event required a full 16-panel stage for a set using a mix of Chinese and Japanese opera instruments, which included massive Japanese Taiko drums, loud enough to be heard from outside the building. 

The performers manipulated the percussion instruments in a  specific manner, furiously beating the drums with heavily dramatic poses and movements in rhythm. They used large drum sticks with flags tied to the ends and a form of ensemble drumming called kumi-daiko, or a “set of drums.”


Photo credit to Michael Rubinstein

The program consisted of the pieces The Monkey King by Junqing Li, Selling Water by Cynthia Huang, The Heavenly Maiden Scattering Blossoms by Haijun Hu, a demonstration of opera instruments performing techniques by Kuiming Jin and Juan Xu, Dream In The Lady’s Chamber by Yan Liu and Junqing Li and capping off the finale was Farewell My Concubine also by Cynthia Huang.

Afterwards, the audience was treated to egg roll dishes, stir fry, and General Tso’s chicken served by Aramark catering.

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