In 2004, Stanford inaugurated its first Pan-Asian Music Festival. Now in its ninth year, the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival has established itself as one of the most important Asian music festivals in the U.S. It is dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of music in contemporary Asia through an annual series of concerts and academic activities. Jindong Cai, Director of Orchestral Studies for the Stanford Department of Music, is the founder and artistic director.
The 2013 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival will showcase the China National Orchestra (CNO), a 90-person ensemble of musicians who perform on Chinese instruments. The CNO will be in residency at Stanford University from February 8-10, 2013. During this period it will give solo and symphonic concerts and master classes and conduct other educational outreach activities. The CNO will work with the Stanford Chinese Music Ensemble and with other such ensembles from around the Bay Area. Academic lectures and discussions related to Chinese music and culture will also be presented during the festival. The orchestra's visit falls during the Chinese New Year, so it will give the very first Chinese New Year's Eve concert to be held in Bing Concert Hall, welcoming in the Year of the Snake.
The CNO was founded in 1960 under the supervision of the late Premier Zhou Enlai. It was deliberately modeled after a Western-style symphony orchestra and intended to demonstrate the virtues of Chinese musical instruments and the power of China's own "national music." The CNO is directly affiliated with China's Ministry of Culture and often plays a quasi-diplomatic role; it has performed in more than fifty countries and worked with many renowned musicians the world over. It is in the forefront of China's efforts to be recognized as a global cultural power.
Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival Artistic Director Jindong Cai was inspired to create a Stanford residency for the CNO after observing the recent China residencies of several American orchestras. "American orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic have had a great influence in China through their own residencies there. I hope that curiosity about Chinese music in the West could be just as strong as Chinese interest in classical music – this will be a start to kindling that curiosity. The CNO is the best such orchestra in China, full of master musicians of the highest level."
During the festival, a lecture and panel discussion called "Chinese Music, Arts and Performance: The Revival of Chinese Culture" will be presented to the public to foster discussion on the role of Chinese art and culture in society and in the world. Because the 2014 festival will focus on music from Tibet and Mongolia, the 2013 will present a preparatory workshop called "Traditional and Monastic Music in Tibet" which will feature musicians and scholars from Tibet who will share their experience of collecting and performing these fast-disappearing forms of monastic music.