Three chinese musicians take a bow
From left: Pinyan Lin, Jennie Zhan and Di Xiao take a bow after a stunning evening of Chinese music with the University of Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra. (Photo: Nicola Gotts)

The University of Birmingham was ablaze with orchestral fireworks as internationally acclaimed Chinese pianist Di Xiao and the University of Birmingham’s Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Daniele Rosina, took centre stage.

The highly-anticipated event at Elgar Concert Hall, which sold out weeks in advance, left attendees spellbound, immersed in a symphonic celebration that bridged cultures and ignited the Year of the Dragon.

The programme featured a captivating blend of Western and Chinese musical influences, anchored by the iconic Yellow River Piano Concerto, composed by Yin Chengzong and Chu Wanghua. As the audience settled into their seats and the opening notes of the Yellow River Concerto reverberated through the hall, listeners were transported to the heart of China.

Our celebration gives us the chance to bring together people from within the University and beyond to build bridges across continents, while offering an exciting insight into Chinese culture.

Professor Jon Frampton, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (China) and Director of the China Institute

But the magic didn’t stop there. The concert also featured enchanting performances by Jennie Zhan on the pipa (a traditional Chinese lute) and Pinyan Lin on guzheng (a plucked string instrument).

Prior to the performance, the foyer buzzed with excitement as attendees mingled over a bespoke selection of canapés.

Professor Jon Frampton, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (China) and Director of the China Institute, said: “Our celebration gives us the chance to bring together people from within the University and beyond to build bridges across continents, while offering an exciting insight into Chinese culture.

“The University extends its gratitude to Di Xiao, Jennie Zhan, Pinyan Lin, and all the talented musicians who made this concert an unforgettable experience, captivating audiences with melodies that transcended borders.”

”The Lunar New Year concert was hosted by the University of Birmingham’s China Institute, which remains committed to nurturing connections, academic excellence and creating opportunities for those keen to engage with China.

For the last 12 years, the China Institute has been weaving together strands of knowledge, creativity and collaboration that connect Birmingham to China. From research partnerships with China’s top universities to municipal partnerships in Guangzhou, the Institute’s impact resonates far beyond its campus.

Outside of its Birmingham base, the University has extended its reach. In 2011, the Guangzhou Centre opened its doors, becoming a vibrant space for hosting activities in China, and a focal point for managing our network of partnerships across China.

But Birmingham’s relationship with China dates back far further than this, spanning more than a century. In 1907, the University welcomed its first Chinese student — a historic moment that laid the foundation for enduring ties. Today, with more than 14,000 Chinese alumni, Birmingham continues to nurture these connections.

And it’s not just academics that bind these two cultures. Music, too, plays a harmonious role. In 1919, Birmingham’s famous geology alumnus Li Siguang composed the first original Chinese violin piece, Difficult Road (Xinglu Nan).

Combined with the China Institute’s annual Lunar New Year concerts, we continue to encourage a greater understanding of China and its place in the world.