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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony And South Coast Chinese Cultural Center/ Irvine Chinese School Celebrate The End Of The Lunar New Year With The Exciting And Colorful "2018 Lantern Festival"

Orange County, CA — January 30, 2018

For the third year in a row, Pacific Symphony and South Coast Chinese Cultural Center (SCCCC)/Irvine Chinese School (ICS) join hands to present a free, fun, family-friendly Lantern Festival, commemorating the end of the Lunar New Year celebration. The festival, spread throughout the concert hall and the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, features Chinese and Vietnamese culture, music and arts, including a variety of colorful performances showcasing local music and dance groups. Open to all, attendees have the opportunity to decorate their own lantern, try their hands at solving a riddle, take a Chinese folk-dance lesson and much more! Entire families are encouraged to come and celebrate the Year of the Dog with numerous activities traditionally associated with the Lunar New Year! Make sure to stay updated on our social media channels, as we broadcast live some of the event’s highlights on Facebook and Instagram, and keep you updated on line wait times on Twitter.

The Lantern Festival takes place on Sunday, March 4, from noon to 6 p.m., at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with performances in the theater, activities in the lobby and interactive demonstrations on the Argyros Plaza. The event is free and open to the public, but due to the limited capacity, remaining available tickets will go fast. Entry is first come, first served; tickets must be reserved in advance through the box office. The Lantern Festival is made possible through the support of the James Irvine Foundation, and is presented in cooperation with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, with additional support from the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China (Taiwan).  

 “2018 marks the third anniversary of the Lantern Festival,” notes Irvine Chinese School Principal Yulan Chung. “Recognized as one of the best cultural festivals in Orange County, our Lantern Festival has become a signature event for both Pacific Symphony and South Coast Chinese Cultural Center. One of SCCCC’s missions is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of America’s diverse heritage by sharing Chinese culture with the general public. We are honored to partner with the Symphony to offer a free educational event that focuses on community building through music and performing-arts programs and performances.”

The Lantern Festival, which can be traced back 2,000 years, takes place on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year—on the first full moon night in the lunar calendar—and marks the return of spring, representing the reunion of family. The act of lighting and appreciating lanterns is a way for people to let go of the burdens of their old selves and express their best wishes for themselves and their families for the future. Celebrated around the world, the Lantern Festival provides a variety of interactive and engaging performances, demonstrations and hands-on activities.

“The Lunar New Year is an important time of year for many within our community of Orange County,” says Alison Levinson, the Symphony’s director of arts engagement. “Traditionally, this is a time when families reunite and, through the act of lighting lanterns, express wishes for the future. It’s a time of reunion and renewal—values that are important to both SCCCC, as well as the Symphony.”

Upon entering the concert hall, attendees find the lobby transformed into an awe-inspiring sea of lanterns curated by artist and curator Trinh Mai and created by Irvine Chinese School students, as well as seniors from Nguoi Viet, who are part of the Bowers Museum Treasures program, and Heninger Village. Family-friendly festivities include the opportunity for everyone to decorate their own lantern (led by members of the Bowers Museum), take in live music, try their hand at Chinese arts and crafts, solve a riddle (and win a prize), have their photo taken with traditional Vietnamese props and much, much more.

Inside the concert hall theater, musical highlights include a Symphony brass quintet, led by principal trombonist Mike Hoffman, as well as Chinese folk dance and customary Chinese songs sung by the Irvine Chinese Chorus. Also performing inside are the South Coast Chinese Orchestra, Strings for Generations, Lac Hong Performing Art Group, Guzheng Ensemble, Drum Team and Lion Dance. Performances are divided into three segments, which start at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“We encourage people to come and stay for the whole 90-minute segment, each of which will feature a variety of art forms performed by community groups,” notes Levinson. “And this year, we are excited to utilize the brand-new Julianne and George Argyros Plaza outside the concert hall for our interactive demonstration space. Members of the public will have a chance to try a Chinese folk dance step, take in a fashion show featuring Áo Dài (traditional Vietnamese dress), and learn more about how the Lunar New Year is celebrated by different cultural communities.”

Out on the plaza, attendees are invited to participate in interactive demonstrations of Chinese instruments, traditional Vietnamese cooking, brush painting, Tai Chi, and other Chinese folk dances and workshops, plus, observe interviews with and demonstrations by Symphony musicians. There will also be food trucks onsite.

“We’re excited this year to welcome more Vietnamese performers into our festival and delve into how the lunar new year is celebrated within the Vietnamese culture through Tet,” Levinson says. “It’s so exciting to see people of many different cultural backgrounds coming together to celebrate art, music and cultural expression. No matter your ethnic background, we invite everyone to come celebrate with us. There’s something for everyone at the Lantern Festival, and we encourage guests to create their own experience.”

Past attendees have shared that the Lantern Festival is a great way for families to expose their children to Lunar New Year festivities and cultural traditions, while also having the opportunity to experience the beauty of the concert hall, home of the Symphony. Last year, more than 4,000 people attended the festival, which featured more than 400 performers, with as many or more expected in 2018.

The Symphony’s Lunar New Year events are significant for two reasons. They serve as part of a series of free or low-cost community concerts and events within a multi-year initiative for the Symphony to engage local Chinese-American communities that has been funded by a $1.2 million grant from the James Irvine Foundation’s New California Arts Fund. Throughout the course of the grant period, the Symphony has focused on building partnerships with local organizations that serve Chinese Americans, producing events in Chinese-American communities and encouraging Chinese Americans to deepen their involvement with the Symphony as volunteers, donors and board members.