There was a special surprise for the audience at this year's annual Spring Festival Gala in the National Concert Hall: A special message from the Irish president Mary Mc Aleese, brimming with best wishes for all concerned. She praised the fantastic line-up of performances which would showcase China's unique and remarkable culture, congratulated UCD Confucius Institute on their staging such a great show to celebrate the New Year, and wished all the Chinese in Ireland a Happy New Year!
All the way from Nanjing, China, the Little Red Flowers Art Troupe joined forces with the students and staff from the Confucius Institute to dazzle the audience at every turn with an eclectic mix of artistic performances. Among the more than 1200 people in attendance were the Chinese ambassador to Ireland Mr. Liu Bi Wei and his wife, the president of UCD Dr. Hugh Brady, a number of other ambassadors, as well as representatives from the fields of Irish politics, business and education and, of course, distinguished representatives from the Chinese community of Ireland. The event was so popular that not an empty seat was left in the house- a testament to the glamour of the Gala and the outstanding success of previous years.
The presenters for the evening were Ms. Li Xiao Dong, a teacher from the UCD Confucius Institute, and Mr. Richard Doran, an Irish native who is now a TV star in China, who flew in from Beijing especially for the occasion. Ms. Li's beautiful flowing English and Mr. Doran's faultless Beijing-style Chinese gave the audience a wonderful practical demonstration of the success and charm inherent in the cultural language exchanges between China and Ireland.
The Gala opened with a great performance of the Chinese song "Songs and Smiles" by the girls of Loreto Secondary School Bray, and the exhilarating enchanting atmosphere was further set by the kids of the world-renowned Little Red Flowers' rendition of "Happy Rabbit Year". A performance of the popular Chinese song “Fairy Tales” by the 4th year students from UCD's B.Comm with Chinese Studies was as faithful to the original as to draw cheers of applause from the excited audience. The breathtaking climax of the show was The Little Red Flowers' performance "Little Calligraphers and Painters". To the accompaniment of melodious singing and joyful dancing, four young performers (The Troupe's average age is only 9!) gave an enthralling live on stage exhibition of their sublime skills in Chinese painting and calligraphy, drawing gasps of admiration from the audience, who cheered and applauded over and over again.
The evening drew to a close to the moving Chinese melody “Unforgettable Night”. Using the Chinese expression which the presenters had taught them earlier, the Irish guests wished their Chinese friends a “Happy Rabbit Year”. Reluctantly parting, the distinguished guests shook hands and said to each other: “See you next year at the UCD Confucius Institute's Spring Festival Gala!”.