At the Kansas City Chinese New Year Concert (2002-2003) by Chen Yi
for string quartet

I. The Talking Fiddle
II. Making the Hand-Pulled Noodles
III. Blue Dragon Sword Dance

Commissioned by the Ying Quartet for the No Boundaries concert series at the Symphony Space in New York, the work is dedicated to Professor Chou Wenchung, the mentor of the composer, for his eightieth birthday celebration. The first movement was premiered at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, 2002.

The work consists of three movements, which are inspired by the impressive programs that I have seen at a Chinese New Year celebration concert in Kansas City, Missouri, presented by the organizations in our local Chinese community.

In the first movement of my string quartet, I use the viola to imitate the Chinese fiddle erhu performed at the KC concert, which could play the tunes like human beings talking in Chinese, to greet the audience vividly, while other instruments in the quartet play the support sound in a celebrating mood. In the second movement, I use music to review the excellent performance of the handpulled noodles making. The delicate art form originated in Henan province in northern China, and the masters have performed the show everywhere around the world, not only to introduce the method of making the food, but also to share the culture with others. The third movement reflects the dramatic scene of the moving gestures in Chinese sword dance. The string quartet piece has drawn pitch and rhythmic materials from Chinese folk music in various styles, and borrowed performing techniques from Chinese traditional instruments such as erhu (bowing), pipa (plucking), dizi (blowing) and percussion.

— C. Y.    

[from program for May 17, 2004 concert]