UB's Confucius Institute to Celebrate China's Joyous Moon Festival Oct. 1

Free gala, featuring music, dance and Beijing Opera stars, will be held at Nichols School

Release Date: September 10, 2010

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Members of the Beijing Opera will perform as part of the Confucius Institute's Moon Festival on Oct. 1.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Confucius Institute, in partnership with the Chinese Club of Western New York with assistance from the Nichols School, will present a gala celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival Oct. 1 at Nichols, 1250 Amherst St., Buffalo.

The celebration will feature lively music, colorful dance and a performance by members of the Beijing Opera company, and will take place in the Flickinger Performing Arts Center at Nichols from 7-9 p.m. It will be free of charge and open to the public.

The Moon Festival, a popular harvest gala, has been celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people, for more than 3,000 years, and dates back to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty. It remains one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar.

The program will include traditional and contemporary performances of song and dance by students from the College of Music at Beijing's Capital Normal University, the Dance Troupe of the Chinese Club of Western New York and the Performance Troupe of the Buffalo Chinese School. In addition, stars of the Beijing Opera will perform thanks to an arrangement with the Binghamton University Confucius Institute.

Eric Yang, director of the Confucius Institute in the UB Asian Studies Program, says, "In the days following this celebration, the accomplished music and dance students from Capital Normal University will perform in local schools to help Western New York students and teachers better understand Chinese traditional culture, and traditional music in particular."

Yang says the Moon Festival is traditionally held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is usually around late September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. This year the festival date falls on Sept. 22, the same date as the 2010 autumn equinox in the solar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and roundest.

"The Moon Festival is a legal holiday in China and several other Asian countries," Yang says, "and farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, the Chinese will gather with family and friends to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos (a citrus fruit common to Southeast Asia) under the moon together."

He says the moon cake -- of which there are many varieties -- is the traditional food of this festival, which is why the celebration is sometimes referred to as the "Mooncake Festival." The mid-autumn planting of trees, dragon dances and burning incense are also associated with the celebration.

The UB Confucius Institute is part of a network of 300 such institutes around the world. It promotes the teaching of Chinese language and culture in Western New York. The institute is a collaborative program involving UB's Asian Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences; Capital Normal University, a longstanding UB educational partner in Beijing, and the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban).

For more information about the Confucius Institute and the festival celebration, contact Eric Yang at 716-645-7919 or wenzhong@buffalo.edu.

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