National Concert Hall, Dublin, February 28th, 2010
The presenters, Richard Doran and Xiaodong Li, greeted the packed National Concert Hall audience in unison with a warm “Guo Nian Hao!” (“Live the festival! Happy new year!”), and so began the Year of the Tiger’s Spring Festival Gala of Ireland. And what a show it was, bringing many brilliant Chinese entertainers to the Irish stage for the first time, and celebrating Sino-Irish friendship through music, song, dance, acrobatics, martial arts, magic and theatrical skills of the highest order. The Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Liu Biwei, was joined by Minister of State Conor Lenihan and former senator and current TD Cyprian Brady at this year’s event. Many of the wonderfully skilled Chinese performers were from the Anhui Provincial Federation Troupe, and highly accomplished Irish traditional music and dance was presented by members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and Durkin Dodd School of Irish Dance.
There were many highlights in the evening’s entertainment, and each of the 20 acts on display was met with a delighted applause from the 1000-strong audience.
The gala opened in its now customary fashion, with a choir made up of girls from Loreto Secondary School Bray – all Confucius Institute students – sweetly singing a well known Chinese folk song, “The Jasmine Flower”, while the finale brought together a total of 65 UCD Irish Institute for Chinese Studies students – 36 B.Comm with Chinese Studies undergraduates from Ireland and other European countries with 29 Pre-Masters Studies students from China, who delivered a rousing version of the traditional Irish song“Oró, Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile” followed by a moving rendition of the well known song “Pengyou” (“Friend”). In between, we were treated to incredible feats of physical prowess and gravity-defying skill from acrobats, plate spinners, Kung Fu practitioners and contortionists. There were wonderful singers, dancers and musicians; while Zhang Dianyong’s spectacular “bricks trick” and Sichuan Opera “face changing” performances left everyone wondering “how on earth did he do that?”
The UCD Confucius Institute of Ireland considers the Spring Festival Gala of Ireland as its most important social event of the year. These free shows provide an opportunity for Chinese and Irish people to enjoy each other’s cultural traditions and have a great time together in the very special atmosphere of warmth and happiness that comes with this time of the year. The night of the 28th February coincided with the Lantern Festival of the New Year of the Tiger and the quality and standard of the performances, many never seen in Ireland before, made this Spring Festival Gala of Ireland the best yet.