COLUMBIA — Although two weeks have passed since the Chinese New Year, Columbia residents gathered to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit at the fifth-annual “China Night” gala at Jesse Auditorium on Sunday night.
About 1,200 people attended the event this year. For the audience members, the show not only presented various aspects of traditional Chinese culture but also gave them an opportunity to celebrate the most important Chinese festival with friends and family.
Kathleen Boggs, a professor in the MU College of Education, attended the gala for the second time.
“I really like Chinese music. I like to see Chinese martial arts. I have Chinese students, and I work with Chinese. I have a love for Chinese people," Boggs said. "I want to support this event.”
There were 15 programs, including both traditional and popular Chinese performances. This year’s gala featured a violin, piano and vocal performance of “Liang Zhu” and “Jasmine Flower,” two traditional Chinese folk songs. Piano player Xinqi Zhao, violinist Alison Tatum and singer Kayla Peters took the audiences to a world of beautiful fairy tales and dreams.
Tatum is a junior majoring in violin performance at MU. This year was her first time performing at China Night. She was asked by her friend to play “Liang Zhu” last semester, and they started to rehearse in January. For her, the Chinese traditional music is very different from the Western classical music that she’s trained to play.
“It’s kind of a challenge to get the style right,” Tatum said. “I listened to a lot of recordings of it, but I got to learn a new piece, so that’s been a lot of fun.”
Yu Fu, a sophomore majoring in business with an emphasis in finance at MU, participated in China Night for the second time. She did three dances: the Lantern Dance, The Song of Yue Ethnic dance and the Tibetan Dance.
“I just want to show the culture and all the differences in China to all the people,” Fu said.
The gala was organized by the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars, a student organization. The primary purpose was to promote Chinese culture and provide a platform for international cultural exchange.
Wen Ouyang of the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs gave a speech at the gala. This was her fourth time attending the show.
“China Night is one of many ways MU connects with the world and brings the unique Chinese culture experience to Columbia and the people of Missouri,” Ouyang said in the speech.
Wen also expressed her thanks to the Friendship Association and local residents for the wonderful evening of Chinese traditional cultural experience.
“As a member of the Chinese culture, I feel very honored,” Ouyang said.