Opera, Art Exhibition & Young Musicians – 2021 Lunar New Year Celebration


Date: Thursday, 25 March 2021

Time:  6.00 - 7.30pm

Venue:  Building EA.G.03, Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Parramatta South campus, Western Sydney University

FREE. RSVP Essential. Please  RSVP HERE (opens in a new window) before  23 March 2021

There is no better way of celebrating the Lunar New Year than by embracing the joy and inspiration of opera, art and music at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University!

We are delighted to welcome the renowned Sinologist with a speciality in Peking Opera, Emeritus Professor Colin Mackerras of Griffith University, to introduce us to the dazzling and mystifying Peking Opera with its lively music, colourful costumes and displays of acrobatic prowess, and to give a comparison of Peking and Western operas. This enlightening talk will be complemented by a costumed live performance by Wu Yan, a celebrated Peking opera singer.

All arts go hand in hand and inspire each other. As a part of our celebration, ACIAC is also pleased to officially open our 2021 FIRST physical art exhibition entitled Universe in Coins, featuring the well-established Chinese Australian artist, Dr Yang Xifa, whose uniquely styled works provoke deep philosophical questions about humankind and our place in the cosmos.

To see children learning and playing music, a unique human creativity and art form, brings hope for the future. Four talented young musicians who have learnt to play traditional Chinese musical instruments will showcase a delightful performance of Chinese and Western music.

You are welcome to join us in our 2021 Lunar New Year celebration with opera, art exhibition and young musicians.


Professor Colin Mackerras (AO, FAHA) is an internationally renowned Sinologist, specialising in Chinese culture. He has had a highly distinguished academic career. He was Chair Professor at the School of Modern Asian Studies at Griffith University in 1974–2004. Since 2004 he has been Emeritus Professor at Griffith University.

Professor Mackerras first worked in China from 1964 to 1966 at what is now known as Beijing Foreign Studies University and has since revisited China many times for teaching and research. He has published widely on various topics, including Chinese culture, theatre, society, ethnic minorities and Australia-China relations. He has a long-standing interest in and has developed extensive scholarship and published several books on Peking opera. Born and brought up in Sydney, Professor Mackerras comes from a musical family and has been an opera lover since childhood.



Peking Opera is a highly stylised theatre, developed in Peking in the late 18th century. In Peking Opera, the skills and arts, song, gesture, costumes and story are tightly integrated with each other. The stage is usually quite bare. Opera plots are either civil (wen), for instance, about marriage and love, or military (wu), concerning wars from Chinese history.  In military plays, thrilling acrobatics are a prominent feature, but most audiences prefer a happy ending.

The focus in Western opera is more on the music and the composer, and more on singing than on acting, making a less perfectly integrated theatre than Chinese opera. From the 17th century onwards, dedicated opera theatres had appeared in Europe.  These had larger and more spectacular stages than those for Peking Opera, and Western opera plots featured more romantic love and tragedy and less military heroism.

Evidently, the Chinese and Western opera traditions both exemplify their cultures to perfection.

Dr Yang Xifa was born in Tianjin, China. He received his Bachelor in fine arts from Tianjin College of Fine Arts in 1989 and his Master’s degree from Tianjin University in 1998. In 2010, he was awarded a PhD from Nankai University. He is a professor of oriental art at Nankai University.

Since 1998, Dr Yang has been living and working in Australia and China. He has had solo and group exhibitions in China, Australia and Japan. His latest exhibitions include group exhibition Precious Treasures at Incinerator Art Space in 2021, Pulse of the Dragon at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in 2020, Xifa Yang Exhibition at Live in Art Gallery, Sydney 2020, Paper & Ink Language at Nanjing Ink Art Biennial 2019 in China and Capital Theory series at Exclamation Art Space Gallery in Beijing 798, China.

Dr Yang is known for his bold exploration in combining traditional Chinese painting with contemporary art experiment. His artwork often contrasts different elements so as to convey a strong sense of shock to viewers. His imagination crosses space, time, continents and cultures. Through his art, he pursues philosophical and metaphysical inquisition into human existence.

Website: Yang Xifa Exhibition: Universe in Coins (opens in a new window)


Hazel Chow - Hello I’m Hazel, I’m 13 years old and I came from Hong Kong. I play the Chinese hammered dulcimer called Yangqin. I started playing Yangqin when I was eight in Hong Kong. I was at my church when I first saw this fun, interesting, and complicated instrument which fascinated me. There was a Yangqin player, Yanki Ma, at my church who became my first Yangqin teacher. After I moved to Sydney with my family, we found another amazing Yangqin teacher, Angela Feng. I like playing Yangqin , because it is really enjoyable and relaxing.

I also like drawing and painting, listening to music and playing the guitar. My dream is have a husky or corgi one day. When I grow up, I want to be a zoo keeper because I really like taking care of animals. If I can’t be a zoo keeper, then I would like to be a professional Yangqin player.

Janet Li - My name is Janet and I am a Year 7 student in Sydney. I first knew the existence of Guzheng when I started kindergarten. I found it fascinating and kept talking about it until my mum found me a Guzheng teacher. I started learning Guzheng when I was in Year 3 in China. I loved it so much that I continued learning it after I moved to Australia with my family. I've been playing Guzheng for around four years now, and there's no way I'm giving that up in the future.

Now, Guzheng is not just a hobby for me. It has become part of my life. I practise every day and play my favourite songs on it. My other interests are drawing, gymnastics and listening to music and I also love swimming.

Tianna Yin - Hi, my name is Tianna. I am eight years old and currently in Year 4. I love music and in my spare time I play two musical instruments, one is Erhu, the other Clarinet.

To me, Erhu is a two stringed Chinese violin and it sounds beautiful when you play it well.

I am a big fan of cats and I also have a cat of my own. He is called Spotty and he might look like am innocent little fluff ball but do NOT be fooled because he is a bitty monster.

Terrence Luk - Hello, I am Terrence. I am 12 years old and I play Erhu. I have been playing Erhu for six years now, and I plan to continue playing it. I like Erhu because because it has a unique sound.

I want to learn Erhu because in Australia there are not many people who play Erhu and I want to be one of the people who do play it.

I also like playing games, watching science-themed videos, and collecting aeroplane models.

Christine Yan Wu is a Sydney-based professional Peking Opera singer. She started her training at the age nine. After she graduated from China National Opera Academy in 1997, she was with Beijing Opera Theatre Company until she migrated to Australia in 2003. She has won numerous awards including the first prize at the most prestigious Peking Opera competition in 1998 and first prize at The Future Star of National Peking Opera in 1995.

Christine has performed in many countries around the world, including England, France, Russia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Japan,  Korea, Turkey, Slovenia, Slovak.

Ying Liu is a celebrated professional Erhu player in Australia, known for her artistic individualism. She has performed and worked with many renowned musicians including Gerard Willems, Claire Edwardes, Richard Clayderman, Fang Jinlong, Wang Peng, Zhu Changyao etc.

Ying is also a music director and producer, composer and songwriter, and music educator and researcher. She has established “Young Cultural Ambassadors”, a Chinese music ensemble for young musicians aged between 6 to 16 to support and develop young talents in playing traditional Chinese musical instruments.

Angela Feng is an excellent professional Yangqin player. She graduated from Central Conservatory of Music, China and has been teaching and playing Yangqin since.

Angela has performed in America , Canada, New Zealand and many Asian countries, and she has been invited to perform in lots of community festivals and events in Sydney. She also teaches Yangqin to young players.

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