China Arts and Entertainment Group Presents

Image China - East/West Concert

November 13, 2021

A Symphonic Celebration of Modern and Traditional Chinese Classical Music

China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) returns to the David H. Koch Theater this November with Image China - East/West concert which is a celebration of modern and traditional Chinese classical music, featuring Conductor Jindong Cai and New York City Ballet Orchestra, together with standout Bass William Guanbo Su, Violin Shenghua Hu, Erhu (a traditional Chinese two-stringed bowed instrument) Jiebing Chen, soprano Esther Maureen Kelly and coloratura soprano Holly Flack. This beautiful symbiotic collaboration from two sides of the world presents classical Chinese pieces in a new light, which will leave you breathless and transport you to an otherworldly time and place.

East/West concert is a part of CAEG's Image China cultural exchange initiative, which seeks to introduce traditional and contemporary Chinese performing arts to audiences around the world. Since 2012, Image China has presented a series of Chinese dance drama at the David H. Koch Theater, including The Peony Pavilion, Silk Road, The Red Dress, The Legend of Mulan, Dragon Boat Racing, Confucius, Soaring Wings, Princess Zhaojun, and more.

JINDONG CAI, Conductor


Image China Suite
Rain Pattering on Plantain Leaves (from Dance Drama Dragon Boat Racing) ~ Du Ming
The Red Dress (from Dance Drama The Red Dress) ~ LanTian, Arr. Lin Miaoling

Eastward the River Rushes (poem by Su Shi from Song Dynasty) ~ Qing Zhu
William Guanbo Su, bass

Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto ~ Chen Gang and He Zhanhao
Shenghua Hu, violin


Appalachian Spring Suite ~ Aaron Copland

Great Wall Capriccio Erhu Concerto ~ Liu Wenjin
Jiebing Chen, erhu

Night by the Maple Bridge (poem by Zhang Ji from Tang Dynasty) ~ Ye Leishuo
Esther Maureen Kelly, soprano

Singing of Goose and Song of Snow (poems by LuoBinwang & Zhang Dayou from Tang Dynasty) ~ Chen Tongyan
Holly Flack,coloratura soprano
Esther Maureen Kelly, soprano

From Jasmine to Turandot ~ Jiangsu Folksong/Giacomo Puccini, Arr. LuoMaishuo
Holly Flack, coloratura soprano
Esther Maureen Kelly, soprano
William Guanbo Su, bass

The programme is subject to change.

Meet the Artists


Jindong Cai (Conductor)

Over more than 30 years career in the United States, Jindong Cai has established himself as an active and dynamic conductor, scholar of Western classical music in China, and leading advocate of music from across Asia. He is professor of music and arts at Bard College and the founding director of the US-China Music Institute at Bard Conservatory of Music. He also serves as associate conductor of The Orchestra Now. Cai founded the annual China Now Music Festival in New York City and Bard College. In its first four seasons, the festival has presented new works by some of the most important Chinese composers of our time, with major concerts performed by The Orchestra Now at Bard’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Stanford University. Before joining Bard, Cai was a professor of performance and director of orchestral studies at Stanford University. Cai serves as the principal guest conductor of the Mongolia State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Ulaanbaatar since 2010 and the Shenzhen Symphony since 2012.Cai is the co-author, with his wife Sheila Melvin, of the books “Rhapsody in Red: How Classical Music Became Chinese” and “Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People's Republic.” He is also a co-producer of PBS Great Performances documentary “Beethoven in Beijing”.


William Guanbo Su (Bass)

William Guanbo Su, currently a member of the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Studio Program, received his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School and his Bachelor of Music Degree from the Manhattan School of Music. In addition to winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals in 2019, Mr. Su won second prize in the Eleanor McCollum Competition at Houston Grand Opera. He won first prize in the Liederkranz Foundation’s Song/Lieder Competition in 2017. He willing be making Metropolitan opera debut in 2022.


Shenghua Hu (Violin)

Shenghua Hu is the first Chinese violinist appointed as the Principal Second Violin of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the ensemble's history. Under the tutelage of acclaimed violinist Kurt Sassmannshaus, Mr. Hu was granted a full prestigious scholarship from the "Starling Foundation" at the University of Cincinnati. Afterwards, he moved to New York to become a protègè of violin mogul Albert Markov - a major prize winner of the Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition. He is a 2014 and 2020 GRAMMY award winner, in addition to being a prizewinner at the Paganini and Sarasate International Violin Competitions along with other esteemed competitions. He has performed in the top concert halls around the world including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Forbidden City Concert Hall and Shanghai East Arts Center. He has made solo appearances with the New York Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and more. Mr. Hu has shared the stage with world-renowned musicians such as Sir Simon Rattle. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Gustavo Dudamel, James Levine, Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Renée Fleming, Evgeny Kissin, Cho-Liang Lin and Yo-Yo Ma.


Jiebing Chen (Erhu)

Jiebing Chen is one of the foremost erhu virtuosos in the world based on her mastery of the classical Chinese repertory and her award-winning contemporary innovations. As a soloist with Chinese, American, and European orchestras she was the first to bring the erhu into the symphonic concert hall. And, she has performed in partnership with some of the most notable jazz and world music artists of our time. She received a Grammy nomination for Best world Music Album for her jazz improvisations with Bela Fleck and Vishwa Bhatt. In 1982, Ms. Chen won the 1st prize in the First Chinese national competition of erhu.


Esther Maureen Kelly (Soprano)

Esther Maureen Kelly graduated from The Maryland Opera Studio in the spring of 2017 with a Master of Music. While working with Young Artist Programs over the past few years - including Opera Saratoga, the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, and the iSING! International Festival in China, she has performed the roles of The First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Contessa Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Yum Yum in The Mikado. Additionally, she has presented and participated in a number of recitals in the United States and Singapore.


Holly Flack (Coloratura soprano)

Holly Flack is a coloratura soprano with a unique range that extends beyond an octave above high C. Her operatic roles include Gilda in Rigoletto, Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, Ophélie in Hamlet and Dinorah in Dinorah (Le Pardon de Ploërmel) for which she received a “Star-Making Performance” award in Mr. Fred Plotkin’s Seventh Annual “Freddie” Awards for Excellence in Opera. In orchestral concert, Ms. Flack has sung soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. She was a featured soloist in a Golden Night Concert celebrating China’s Mid-Autumn Festival at David Geffen Hall in New York City, where she sang a B-flat above high C, the highest note ever sung at Lincoln Center.


New York City Ballet Orchestra

For George Balanchine, true ballet required the total integration of music and dance. When he founded the New York City Ballet in 1948 as Ballet Society, the Company included a full orchestra - and this orchestra has played for every performance of the New York City Ballet in its home theater ever since. In 1964, the Company moved from City Center to the Lincoln Center complex on New York’s Upper West Side. Along with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet and its orchestra are a vital part of the core group of world class institutions that fulfill Lincoln Center’s cultural mission. With a schedule of seven performances each week of rotating repertoire, the 63 members and three associate members of the New York City Ballet Orchestra perform together over 200 times each year with an active repertoire of more than 250 ballets. The Orchestra’s first music director was the legendary Léon Barzin (1948- 1963). But it was during the term of its next music director, Robert Irving, who led the orchestra from 1963-1989, that the orchestra became an integral part of the company and forged its reputation as one of the finest ballet orchestras in the world. Irving was part of a triumvirate, along with George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirsten, who inspired and guided the Company through its early years. Gordon Boelzner followed Robert Irving as music director from 1989 until 2000; then Andrea Quinn (in 2000); Faycal Karoui (in 2006); and Andrew Litton (in 2014), the orchestra’s current music director. In 2008, the orchestra began to give solo performances on some evenings of ballet. According to the NY Times, “. . . something so refreshing occurred at New York City Ballet that you want it to happen at least once a season. The players rose to the occasion. The balance of different orchestral sections. . . was especially fine.” The New York City Ballet Orchestra’s CD of The Nutcracker, under the direction of David Zinman, has become the standard for performances of the work. Under the baton of Robert Irving, the orchestra released many recordings of the varied repertoire that accompanies much of Balanchine’s legendary choreography. In many cases, the music exists as a result of partnerships between Balanchine and composers such as Stravinsky (Agon, Orpheus) and Hindemith (The Four Temperaments). For Balanchine, dance and live music, both old and new, were inseparable components of great ballet performances. As he famously said, “See the music, hear the dance.”