CEDP Chinese Centre was established 20 years ago to support the Chinese and wider communities.
About this Event
This New Year event is the highlight of our year and has become one of Brighton’s premier cross-cultural celebrations. The colourful stage performances are always the focus of the day. Whatever your age, come and experience some hands on Chinese activities: calligraphy, painting, dragon lantern making and much more. Chinese food, information and accessories stalls will also be available throughout the event.
On November 3rd, 2019, the London School of Economics and Political Science hosted a tourism and culture event to celebrate “Beautiful Sichuan, Home of the Panda.”
Among over one hundred attendees were Ms. Ma Lei, Deputy Director of the Cultural Department of the Chinese Embassy, UK and representatives from the UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Institute of Directors, the UK Ministry of Investment and Trade, the Ministry of Health, HSBC, the UK Department of Education, LSE professors and students, the Confucius Institute for Business, London (CIBL), and other Confucius Institutes.
Inside the auditorium, guests were immersed in the atmosphere and symbols of Sichuan culture: cute mini-pandas, national-treasure dolls; Discovering Sichuan books; painting and calligraphy workshops invoking Sichuan’s long history and magnificent mountains and rivers; a feast of traditional Chinese, and particularly Sichuanese, food and wine; and speeches about Sichuan intermingled with live music and dance performances.
Speakers included: Dr Neil McLean, Academic Director LSE; Xia Jianhui, Education Consul at the Chinese Embassy in the UK; Yao Jieping, Inspector of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Tourism and Culture; and David Singer Lamaih, Chairman of the UK Board of Directors. Following a short film depicting the splendor or Sichuan, guests were fascinated by the traditional Sichuan opera-mask-changing dance. As the dancer shifted magically from one striking face to another, using techniques rooted in the origins of Chinese dramatic art, and making the first face disappear completely, she left the audience wondering, “How does she do that?”
Bringing an international flavour to the stage, Adam Davis, a talented British singer/songwriter, music producer and also a student of the Confucius Institute for Business London, treated the audience to a musical feast. For the first song, “Chengdu,” named after the capital of Sichuan Province, Adam was accompanied by Wu Yafei, Zhong Yi and Chen Xi, three beautiful girls from his choir (all doing media and international marketing degrees), elegant in their traditional red cheongsam dresses: “I walk through the streets of Chengdu … until all the lights are extinguished“. As male and female harmonies pushed the atmosphere to a powerful and confident climax, the audience raised their phones to capture the moment.
In a change of mood, mezzo-soprano Phoebe Haines and Adam Davis performed “Lake Baikal,” Adam’s outstanding voice and clear Chinese pronunciation blending beautifully with Phoebe’s professional operatic delivery to highlight the song’s charm and beauty. Visually, the contrast of the white evening jacket and extravagantly-flared long, red dress was extraordinarily dazzling, giving the event an opera house feel. Then, Adam accompanied Phoebe’s powerful “Kangding Love Song,” which shows listeners the “horse on the hill”, looking up at the “young cloud” above its head.
This was followed by a performance of Swan Lake – panda style – which instantly brought a smile to the face of every guest. The pandas, who wowed the whole audience, picked up their toes, kicked, swung, and slammed… Our national treasure is so cute!
Sponsorship for the day was provided by the Sichuan Cultural Tourism Bureau, Tianjin Airlines, Haidilao, Cambridge China “Restaurant”, Brighton Panda Supermarket, Muxiang Garden Restaurant, LSE, and the CIBL. The donated presents and raffle prizes included: face-changing Peking Opera Masks, Panda dolls, Seabed meal coupons, Luzhou Laojiao, LSE Confucius Institute cultural immersion coupons, and the special prize, an England-China round-trip airline ticket.
By integrating culture, tourism and business, the event aimed to enabled more British friends to better understand Sichuan, its culture and its charm, and to further promote tourism, cultural exchanges, and cooperation between Sichuan and the United Kingdom.
Amidst the wondrous decor of red, white and gold, the festivities explode with a mighty roar! To the sound of thunderous drums and crashing cymbals, spectacular lions and dragons of the CEDP Arts troop dance towards you. Entering from afar, they wend their way through the audience, before marking their territory at front of the scene. The lions herald a prosperous age. They are a sign of luck and good things to come. People sing to celebrate.
Honoured guests are introduced: Chairman of the CEDP, Dr Hong Lu; Executive Chairman, Alex Wu; and the board of directors. Councillor Alexandra Phillips, Mayor of Brighton and Hove, takes the floor to pay tribute to the splendour of the event and express her gratitude for the wonderful hospitality. She emphasises the importance of the Chinese community within Brighton and Hove, wishing prosperity and a growing exchange of culture and ideas.
Then: a change of pace. September is harvest season, one of enthusiasm and festival not only for Chinese people but also for those from all corners of the world. This sentiment is embodied by a high-energy, flamboyant carnival display by Brazilian dancer Marta Scott and her company – reminding us that people of walks of life who share a love for dance and movement can come together as one.
Bringing a shift in the mood, Eason takes the stage. The talented nine-year-old guitarist – wearing a light pink shirt to evoke the light-hearted atmosphere of the day – delivers a very cool rendition of the groovy, yet melancholic ‘Summer’s End’.
The strings resonate among a captivated audience, mixing with gentle backing piano, organ, and reverberant clicks and claps to re-introduce a note of modern ‘chill’. The piece was composed by Adam Davis, of the Chinese Centre’s Music department, and written especially for Eason’s performance at the Family Music Showcase for gifted youngsters, just 2 weeks previously.
Then, a young girl in a light blue butterfly dress and silver slippers walks up confidently. With delicate fingers wrapped in cloth like a fighter’s, Alice King gives an accomplished performance on the Guzheng, one of the oldest musical instruments in China, with a history of more than 2,500 years. Eight-year-old Alice is also coming off the back of her performance at the recent music showcase.
Then she shows her versatility with a lively rendition of Mama Mia on her shinning silver flute.
Now, an array of elegant ladies step forth in magnificent, brightly-coloured dresses to present a Qipao dance show. Also known as Cheongsam, these feminine, body-hugging garments, emblazoned with Chinese features and characteristic of their Manchu origins, were made popular in the 1920s by upper-class women in Shanghai. The ladies move graciously to the tune of rhythmic and soothing melodies.
A powerful vocal solo from Adam Davis, one of the event comperes, now fills the space. The song, Message, is one of Adam’s own compositions – conveying the message of staying strong through adversity, and believing in oneself always. He first performed this Mandarin translation at Tsinghua University’s graduation ceremony while he was studying in Beijing in July. Adam is currently studying Mandarin at the CEDP and with LSE Confucius Institute, with a view to translating more of his songs into Chinese. A gifted bi-lingual composer and musician (French mother – English father), he has a great deal of experience in live performance, and directing bands and choirs.
The CEDP hopes to host more music related events in the future. With this in mind, Adam has been asked to run a weekly choir and performance workshop, providing there are enough interested members. The aim is to coach singing and performance techniques in a modern style – in English and Chinese (and French!) – all in a relaxed and friendly environment. It will be open to children and young people of varying abilities, leading up to an end of term concert and the chance to perform on the prestigious Chinese New Year 2020 stage.
The tone shifts again. A young woman appears softly in a dress of pure white and cream. Yafei Wu’s inspiring and graceful performance of ballet-esque Chinese dancing is breathtaking. The compere informs the watchers that Yafei, who is currently doing a Media degree at the University of Sussex, will be running a class -and that anyone who shares her love of dance and wishes to follow her steps is welcome to speak to Yafei or any of the other CEDP organisers for details.
Martial arts now make an entrance. Jessica’s fierce and flowing moves tell a story of strength and discipline. Her kicks and cartwheels are as fluid as the abstract shapes rippling on the screen behind.
A cello with a pink ribbon. A man with a poem. A girl with a singing microphone. The artistic combination of these three unexpected companions is remarkable. The poem, made musical, is touching.
Then everybody is KungFu fighting. Loud music and loud moves. The CEDP Art troupe return with a Tai chi Fan show followed by a contrasting Panda dance. The large, romantic and clumsy Pandas perform to a sophisticated orchestral backing, filling the air with comedy.
The final celebrations: Another Carnival dance, with the audience joining in. The sharing of the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake, prepared by the volunteers. An exibition of arts, crafts, photography and jewery, from skillfull and talented graduates from Brighton University. Then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: raffle prize draws. Families, teachers, students, doctors, friends, everybody ready? Number 97… calling number 97…
“Mid-Autumn Festival is expectant of good things. Mid-Autumn festival is caring and misses loved ones. Mid-Autumn festival is complete. Let us enjoy this time and look forward to the next gathering. Thank you all for coming.”
Chinese Fine Art photographer, Bojian Xu, is finishing her Master degree in photography at the University of Brighton. A keen events planner, she is project manager for the 2019 Mid-Autumn Moon festival exhibition – one of Brighton CEDP Chinese Centre’s most prominent events. Bojian is eager to capture and explore the power of duality in personal negative sentiments. This is reflected in her work ‘Dialogue’, presented at the Mid-Autumn exhibition. The piece is inspired by the Yin & Yang – a traditional Chinese cultural symbol. Nothing is absolute. Chinese culture teaches us that there are two sides to everything in this world and that these opposites co-exist. Bojian’s art speaks to her intuitive feelings of curiosity and concern for herself and the future. In this project, she encourages herself and her audience to brave emotional weakness and, through honesty, to face it directly.
Yue Xin is a designer with a background in interior decoration. She has a first degree in Fine-art from China, and has just finished her postgraduate course in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Brighton, UK. Her interests are wide ranging; from pure art, nature art, and interior decoration to city architecture and urban design.
The series ‘Yearning’ is specially designed for this Sino-British event, to express the homesickness of being far from China on the occasion of the Mid-Autumn festival. The southernmost Pacific Ocean, standing by the English Channel, the moon, so missed…
Yingzi’s approach to contemporary art jewellery uses multiple skills in silversmithing. Through her craft, she focuses on exploring everyday emotions and abstract or intangible ideas. Rather than concentrating solely on the beauty of her art, she uses it as a vessel to explore her feelings.
These identical objects are compass broaches. Using gilded metal and brass, Yingzi conveys her understanding of the meaning of the sea and life. The compasses carry a dual narrative. For those at sea, they guide the way. For all of us, they symbolise directions for the mind – raising questions about who we want to be and what we are missing, whether this is a person or a memorable place such as our hometown.
Lantern making is a traditional Chinese folk handicraft. On the Mid-Autumn festival, people make lanterns in the shape of a lotus and put them on the river, or write their wishes on Kongming lanterns and send them to the sky. There is no official lantern event, such as the Yuanxiao Lantern Festival, on Mid-Autumn day. Enjoying lanterns is mainly for families and children. Some people will hollow out a pomelo, carve a simple design on the peel, and a pomelo lantern is made! Although simple and easy to make, these are extremly popular with children.
This illustration portrays legends about the Mid-Autumn Festival: the Goddess Chang’e flying to the moon, Wu Gang chopping a laurel tree, and the Jade Hare making medicine.
Of all these legends, the most widespread is undoubtedly that of Chang’e, who lives in the Moon Palace. The story has many different versions. Despite their differences, they all have one thing in common: Chang’e was the wife of Hou Yi who shot down the nine other suns. Grateful for this heroic act, the Queen of Heaven awarded him the elixir of eternal life. When Hou Yi was out hunting, Chang’e took the elixir. Her body quickly floated through the air, to the moon.
Chang’e was lonely in the moon palace, so she liked to dance when the moon was full and the people of earth would enjoy it. So it became the custom to enjoy the full moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival.