Chinese Fine Arts Society kicking off celebration

April 26, 2014 (CHICAGO)

The ensemble of musicians doesn't normally play together. But they have all assembled to play the work of an emerging Chinese composer to them, a worthy cause.

"Everybody knows pieces by Mozart or Beethoven, but hardly people know, let's say Ligeti or Chen Yi, that is the composer of the piece that we are performing for this concert," said Emanuele Andrizzi, Lyric Opera of Chicago conductor.

It is an idea that has been 30 years in the making. Julie Tiao Ma took over operations of the Chinese Historical Society after her mother, Barbara Tiao passed away in 2008. Her mother founded the non-profit after organizing a concert in celebration of Confucius' birth. She was displeased with the results.

"They were all these cute little Asian kids and they were all playing Bach, Beethoven and Brahms and none of them were playing Chinese music. She said, 'we need to fix this,'" Julie Tiao Ma said.

Every year since its inception, the group has hosted competitions and staged performances to promote the work of Chinese musicians. Four upcoming concerts titled "Forces of Nature: The Five Elements Project" will be themed around the five elements important in Chinese culture: earth, fire, metal, wood and water.

"We chose to do water for the first concert because the series is dedicated to my late mom and water representing her flowing creativity has been her theme since her 70th birthday," said Tiao Ma.

The first concert in the "Forces of Nature: The Five Elements Project" is happening Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Logan Center for the Arts on the University of Chicago campus.

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