Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture

This fall, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County will bring to Southern California a bicoastal Carnegie Hall festival paying tribute to China’s diverse and vibrant culture and its influence around the world. Marking the first time that Carnegie Hall’s live festival programming will be offered to audiences outside New York City, the West Coast edition of Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture will take place from October 11 to November 24 at Orange County Performing Arts Center, a part of Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Southern California artistic partners. The festival in New York City will be presented from October 21 to November 10 at Carnegie Hall and New York partner institutions.

The first festival presented under the partnership between Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Ancient Paths, Modern Voices will feature performances by leading international musicians, including some artists and ensembles traveling outside China for the first time. The festival will include Western symphonic and chamber music influenced by Chinese culture, traditional folk music and contemporary music as well as traditional marionette theater, dance, film screenings, calligraphy, art exhibitions and much more. Featured artists in Southern California will include Wu Man, Lang Lang, Yuja Wang and the Shanghai Symphony, Cho-Liang Lin, and the West Coast premiere of a new work by Chen Qigang.

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices in Southern California will feature performances by major artists and ensembles appearing at Carnegie Hall as well as new programming created through the Philharmonic Society’s relationships with other prestigious cultural institutions including: The Bowers Museum, The Colburn School, Orange County Film Society, Orange County Museum of Art, South Coast Chinese Cultural Association / Irvine Chinese School, South Coast Plaza, South Coast Repertory, and University of California Humanities Research Institute. Festival collaborators include The Huntington Library & Gardens and the Nixon Presidential Library.

By partnering with Carnegie Hall and other prominent institutions, Segerstrom Center for the Arts achieves a new level of excellence in serving Southern California, and reaching out as never before on the international stage," stated Henry Segerstrom, Managing Partner of South Coast Plaza, presenting sponsor. "I am delighted that this vibrant celebration of Chinese culture presented by Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County will be able to enrich and enliven the experience of audiences on both coasts."

“This new initiative could not have happened without Henry Segerstrom, who played a key role in bringing together the Philharmonic Society and Carnegie Hall to discuss how we could collaborate,” stated Dean Corey, President and Artistic Director, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. “I think that everyone who enjoys the Philharmonic Society’s Segerstrom Select Series will also recognize in this festival the influence of Elizabeth Segerstrom, who does so much to bring the best in the performing arts to Orange County.”

Mr. Corey continued, “We are deeply grateful to South Coast Plaza, the international retail destination developed by the Segerstrom Family, for its extraordinary support of this initiative, and for the contributions of land and funding that led over the years to the creation of Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Center for the Arts. We are proud that this marvelous, multi-organization arts campus will be the primary home of our edition of this festival.”

Perhaps more than ever before, the incredibly diverse aspects of China—its history, timeless traditions, and lively contemporary arts scene—have captured the imagination of the world,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. “With Ancient Paths, Modern Voices, we invite audiences on a cross-disciplinary exploration of this world, examining China’s traditional and contemporary culture, and how it has influenced artists around the globe. This exploration is enhanced by our many wonderful partnerships with institutions across New York City. We’re especially grateful to Henry Kravis for his generous support in helping us to bring this festival to life.”

Carnegie Hall’s highly acclaimed festivals offer audiences opportunities to undertake compelling journeys of discovery, which include not only extraordinary concerts but also films, lectures, readings, museum exhibits, and more, through partnerships with other cultural institutions.

The immemorial culture of China has made itself felt throughout the world for many centuries—but its influence today is arguably more widespread, and more directly present, than at any other time in history,” stated Dean Corey. “That is the source of the richness and excitement of Ancient Paths, Modern Voices. The festival presents extraordinary expressions of the most venerable Chinese artistic traditions, then brings them into the here and now. This is Chinese culture in all its variety, from the deepest roots to the greenest branches.”

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture in Southern California is presented with the support of South Coast Plaza and The Segerstrom Foundation. The Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture festival is made possible by a leadership gift from Henry R. Kravis in honor of his wife, Marie-Josée.

Buy recordings by Wu Man: Chinese Music for the Pipa and Pipa from a Distance

Ticket Information

Single tickets for Ancient Paths, Modern Voices performances and events in Costa Mesa will go on sale in June 2009.
For ticket information and programming updates, please visit

Web site

In conjunction with Ancient Paths, Modern Voices, Philharmonic Society and Carnegie Hall will launch special Web sites: and These online companion sites will feature the most up-to-date information on festival events as well as interviews with featured artists and insights into Chinese culture and festival programs.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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