2016 Recording & 2017 China-Taiwan Tour + Global Education Initiative
On October 23, 2016 Miss Hou performed and recorded The Butterfly Lovers Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cadogan Hall in London UK, under the direction of Maestro John Nelson, to worldwide critical acclaim. This marks the first step in a long journey between these wonderful musicians. Together, the RPO + John Nelson + Yi-Jia Susanne Hou will embark on a tour of China & Canada in 2017 September – October, sharing this beautiful masterwork with millions worldwide. Miss Hou is also launching a new Global Education Initiative in 2017. Please sign up above to receive news about the upcoming release of the Butterfly Lovers Recording & Tour, especially if you have a young artist in mind that may be interested to know about this new education initiative and future opportunities!
Here’s a sample of the music from London with press clippings below. Press release.
UK CHINESE TIMES
BBC WORLD NEWS – Global Broadcast to 80 million viewers
BBC WORLD RADIO – 250 million listeners
Music by He Zhanhao & Chen Gang
The tale of ‘Star-Crossed Lovers’ has long been a source of inspiration for countless poets, novelists, playwrights, composers, and filmmakers. However, unbeknownst to most, the great William Shakespeare was not the first on this scene with his famed ROMEO & JULIET (said to be written 1591-1595). Nor was his predecessor at metrical verse, Arthur Brooke, who translated an Old Italian Tale into THE TRAGICAL HISTORY OF ROMEUS AND JULIET in 1562.
In fact, a far far earlier version had been written in a land far far away…
In China, during the JIN DYNASTY [265-420] the first known story of forbidden youthful love resulting in tragic suicide was written. Only in this version, the star-crossed lovers – who die after committing suicide in human form – are reincarnated into eternal butterflies in love. Over a thousand years later, this compelling tale inspired a Violin Concerto written in Shanghai, China, just before the Cultural Revolution [1966-1976] in China. This work is still little known to the Western world.
Below is a short telling of the Butterfly Lover’s Tale whose principal characters are played by the Violin Soloist (Juliet) & Principal Cellist (Romeo):
This is the story of Romeo & Juliet as told in ancient Chinese times. Girls were not permitted to attend school, and all family members obeyed the father’s word with no exception. Juliet (Yin) begs her father every day of her childhood to allow her to go to school. Finally at age 15, he agrees to send her to a 3-year boarding school. Our musical story begins on one sunny day when Juliet is off to school, dressed up as a boy…
Juliet arrives at school and meets Romeo (Bo), her roommate-to-be for the next 3 years. They instantly become best friends.
Juliet and her Romeo laugh, play, study, and grow fonder and fonder of each other every day. They are best friends and soul mates, but Romeo still does not know that Juliet is really a girl.
3 years of joy flies by and they both must now go home. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Juliet tells her Romeo to visit her at home where she has a ‘twin sister’ who is just like her, and perhaps he can marry! Romeo is thrilled at the prospect of seeing Juliet again and meeting her ‘sister’.
Back at home, Juliet discovers her impending doom. Her father welcomes her home with the news – now that she is of age – she is to marry the son of their family friend, Ma. Juliet pleads with her father but to no avail…she must marry Ma, even if her heart already belongs to Romeo.
Desperate and heart-broken, Juliet cries herself to sleep in her room, refusing to believe her fate. Amidst tears, Juliet looks outside her window and sees Romeo coming down the pathway over the hill to her house – he is dreamy, joyful, lovely.
Juliet heart warms with love and breaks with sorrow. She tells Romeo she was the girl all along, but that she must marry Ma, as her father wishes it so. They share one long embrace until Romeo breaks away, dazed, confused and heart-broken.
After Romeo leaves, Juliet turns mad with sorrow. Juliet’s father exercises his authority, immovable in his decision. Juliet locks herself in her room, refusing to eat, sleep, and accept her father’s decision.
After leaving Juliet’s home, Romeo returns to his home and looses his will to live. After just hours, he dies of a broken heart. His dying wish is to be buried close to Juliet, in the valley on the other side of her house.
Juliet hears of her lover’s tragic death and it is too much for her. Her father still insisting she marry Ma, Juliet runs down the pathway over the hill to Romeo’s grave, still yet to be covered with earth. She drops to her knees, crying in despair and begs the heavens to take her as well. The sky darkens with black clouds, thunder and lighting strike, and Romeo’s tomb is struck open. Juliet throws herself into Romeo’s grave, dying instantly.
The black clouds soften, giving way to a single streak of sunlight that hits Romeo & Juliet’s tomb. A moment later 2 beautiful butterflies emerge, fluttering around each other in dizzying circles. Romeo and Juliet are once again joined, this time able to live happily ever after for eternity as butterflies.
Over a thousand years later, lovers still walk along this path and look over the hill where there are always 2 butterflies playing together in the sunlight…
Please fill contact me to inquire about outreach performances and opportunities by Miss Hou to neighbouring schools.
Eliciting a vibrant and crystal clear tone out of her nearly 300-year-old violin, Hou immersed herself deeply into the work, drawing out an amazing amount of nuance and character. Hou’s immersive approach came through across the piece, but was given a particularly enjoyable boost in Zhu’s stormy argument with her father, represented by the orchestra, and her emotional collapse at the realization that she would have to marry a total stranger. With her eyes shut tight and her hair flying, Hou presented an extraordinary portrait of youthful rage at the injustice of the world.
The violin appears enchantingly, her haunting pentatonic melody and compelling warmth of tone counterpointed by drops and splashes of harp and piano. The movements are different flows of tempo that showcase the violin with a similar focus to Paganini. Hou said in her interview that the concerto is like an opera for violin, and there are lovely duets with the cello, beautifully characterised by Kristiyan Chernev – deep, moody, and Dvorakian. Although “folky” to western ears, the violin part is quite virtuosic, with a cadenza reminiscent of Kriesler’s Brahms. Hou’s alluring legato double stops left more than a few loose hairs on her bow! She is an engaging and emotional player, as comfortable talking to a concert-hall full of people as she is performing this highly technical concerto.
LIVE ON STAGE Introduction by Yi-Jia Susanne Hou with Cape Philharmonic, February 2015
Courtesy of Andy Wilding, Fine Music Radio