43rd Orchestral Season

View Event Calendar
Full List Calendar

Morning Star Lilies Forever - Opening Concert of the 43rd Orchestral Season

Agricultural Bank of China Limited Hong Kong Branch Proudly Supports

Date and Time
27-28/9/2019 (Fri & Sat) 8:00pm
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Ticket Fee
$200, $250, $320, $420
Yan Huichang
Performed by
Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra
Shaanxi Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra
Mizhi Wind and Percussion Ensemble
Banhu: Shen Cheng
Singing Performance - Folk Songs of Northern Shaanxi: Su Wen
Self-accompanied Singing with Sanxian: Gao Yongyuan
(Bearer of Northern Shannxi's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Narrative Singing)
Suona: Wang Zhanzhan

Found in the northern Shaanxi plateau, the flame-coloured morning star lily symbolizes the passionate, open-hearted nature and tenacity of the people of northern Shaanxi.

As the HKCO enters its 43rd season, it will present a selection of classics like those flowers in bloom. To mark the opening of the new season, the Orchestra will be performing the Chinese orchestral suite Morning Star Lilies Forever, a large-scale work by composer Wang Danhong.

Performing together with the HKCO at this meaningful concert are the Shaanxi Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra, Mizhi Wind and Percussion Ensemble, folk singer Su Wen, bearer of northern Shaanxi’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of narrative singing Gao Yongyuan, famed banhu virtuoso Shen Cheng,and suona virtuoso Wang Zhanzhan. It will be a celebration of northern Shaanxi’s rich folk customs with a blend of indigenous and contemporary folk music.


Morning Star Lilies Forever Wang Danhong

Overture: Xin Tian You

The first movement: Battle of the Drums at Hukou

The second movement: Praying for Rain

Singing Performance - Folk Songs of Northern Shaanxi: Su Wen

The third movement: The Multi-coloured Cave Dwellings

The fourth movement: As the Strong Wind Blows

Self-accompanied Singing with Sanxian: Gao Yongyuan

The fifth movement: The Porters

Banhu: Shen Cheng

The sixth movement: Suona Concerto Looking Heavenward

Suona: Wang Zhanzhan

Coda: Morning Star Lilies Forever
Music Views & Previews

Virtuosi Converging from Both Folk and Formally Trained Milieux

Chow Fan Fu

After a pre-premiere performance in the Xi’an Concert Hall under the baton of Yan Huichang on 27 September 2017, Morning Star Lilies Forever, a full-scale Chinese symphonic production written by the up and-coming mainland composer Wang Danhong, had a re-run on 16 October the same year at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing as part of a premium programme in tribute to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. This piece is very much the fruit of long-term efforts coming from various quarters, not least the teamwork of folk artists and formally trained musicians. The warm reception was far beyond general expectations.  

The driving force behind it came from the Shaanxi Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra.  Founded in 1950, it was one of the earliest professional Chinese orchestras formed in the early days of the Peoples’ Republic of China. In recent years, it has been actively collaborating with well-known orchestras at home and abroad, and the present concert in conjunction with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra is another project on its development agenda. The production had also been taken on tour to Europe and America. The Orchestra had also commissioned well-known Mainland composers to write many full-length works after the Shaanxi vernacular style. Morning Star Lilies Forever, performed in the ‘Guofeng Qinyun and The Chinese Root’ series, was among the commissioned works by the Orchestra.

A suona troupe with a sizable cast

This full-scale work by Wang Danhong is about 1.5 hours long and consists of six movements, a prelude and a coda. It consists of elements inspired by the folk music of Shaanxi on the Loess Plateau. Rich in contrast and effective in its application, its dramatic and logical structure leads and shapes the audience’s moods, just as much as the rustic and powerful prelude featuring a Xin Tian You folk tune performed by a strong suona cast made up of folk artists

It is followed by the first movement, Battle of the Drums at Hukou, which depicts a dynamic and surging scene through wind and percussion instruments. The second movement, Praying for Rain, is sung by folk singer Su Wen. His deep, gritty and strident voice heard alongside the orchestra depicts effectively a rain-praying scene shrouded with mystery and pathos. The third movement, The Multi-coloured Cave Dwellings, is a gentle, melodious movement based on the tune of San Shi Li Pu. It produces added contrast to the fourth movement, As the Strong Wind Blows, sung by folk singer Gao Yongyuan, who sings with a heightened voice to his own accompaniment of the sanxian. The fifth movement, The Porters, is performed by Shen Cheng, a Beijinger and a formally trained musician of string instruments. He sings to his own accompaniment of the banhu two famous northern Shaanxi tunes in the folksy mood of Xin Tian YouLan Hua Hua and As Teardrops Fall in the Woods, which depict the miserable and tiring working life of porters in the region. It leads to the sixth movement, Looking Heavenward, in the form of a suona concerto. The soloist Wang Zhanzhan brings the piece to a climax with his exquisite display of skills on the instrument in a virtuoso performance alongside the orchestra. Lastly, the ten-minute long coda, Morning Star Lilies Forever, begins with an emotional and mellifluous tune and ends with an echo to the strong suona rendering in the prelude with a heightened and uplifting tune of northern Shaanxi, to the accompaniment of the entire orchestra.

Telling the story of the Chinese people

Morning star lilies grow in abundance on the northern Shaanxi Plateau. If Morning Star Lilies Forever is a story about the people of the region, it is as much a symbol of northern Shaanxi as it is a symbol of the will and determination of the Chinese people in general. This piece was part of a programme in support of the Huangdi Mausoleum Sacrificial Ceremony last year during the Qingming Festival, an apt recognition of its being the story of the Chinese race.

That this story is told in a touching and aesthetically pleasing way owes much to the collaborative efforts of Wang Danhong, Yan Huichang, Su Wen, Gao Yongyuan, Shen Cheng, Wang Zhanzhan, a strong suona cast and the many virtuosi from two Chinese orchestras drawn from both the folk and the formally trained music milieux. This is a rare collaborative feat and should therefore be a focal point of interest for the audience.