By Wenhao Ma
More than 7,000 miles from China, Haoran Yang, a freshman majoring in mathematics at Stony Brook University, doesn’t miss home if nobody mentions the topic.
However, when he heard the theme music of the Spring Festival Gala, or Chunwan, a Chinese New Year special produced by and shown on China Central Television on the eve of Chinese New Year, he couldn’t resist the homesickness.
“When I hear the music,” he said, “I want to watch it so much. I miss home so much.”
He volunteered at another Chinese New Year gala this year, which was produced by the Confucius Institute at Stony Brook, a branch of Confucius Institute, a non-profit organization under the Minister of Education of People’s Republic of China aiming to promote Chinese language and culture overseas.
The gala started at Wang Center Theater on Feb. 15th at 3 p.m., three days before the eve of Chinese New Year. More than 200 people watched the show, according to Shijiao Fang, Deputy Director of Confucius Institute at Stony Brook University.
The 239-seat theater could not meet the even greater demand, as about 400 to 500 people had requested tickets, Fang said.
The performances started shortly after the speeches separately given by Fang, William Arens, the director of the Confucius Institute at Stony Brook, and two consuls from Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York.
Sunday’s Performances included popular Chinese songs, operas, dances, a magic show, a violin performance and a chorus. The two-hour long gala had taken months to prepare.
Guangyong Xu, 40, whose daughter, Claire Xu, took part in the violin performance with seven other children from The Stony Brook Youth Music Club, said that her daughter, a one-year-and-a-half violin performer, spent about one to three months practicing for the gala.
“These kids’ performance was cute,” said Xu at the dinner after the gala. “Actually everyone was working really hard.”
Confucius Institute at Stony Brook has been holding the Chinese New Year Gala annually since it was established in 2008, but it was Fang’s first time organizing it as the new deputy director.
“It was complicated,” said Fang. “I had to consider a lot of things.”
About half of the audience members who attended the show were Asians. For some, the performances were a reminder of the culture that they grew up in.
Xinben Yu, 21, is a Canadian Chinese student who is earning her master degree in music. She was away from her home in Canada, but the show easily reminded her of where she came from.
“I always keep in touch with Chinese culture,” said Yu, who added that she has been watching the Chinese New Year Gala on China Central Television every year.
Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is the first day of the first month on the lunar calendar. For thousands of years, it has been the time for families to unite and have dinners together.