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Ushering in the New Year

Ushering in the New Year

On Saturday, January 14, the Bay Area offered more than its usual variety of activities. At Candlestick Park, the 49ers provided one type of activity, while the clear and mild weather afforded others a chance to play outside. And, miles or minutes away from those other Saturday afternoon options, many were taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy and indoor concert of Chinese and Taiwanese Music as part of the Chinese New Year Celebration at Central Park Library in Santa Clara.

The sounds of music filled the air of the Redwood Room as a near capacity crowd was treated to a very enjoyable performance of music that was both new and known. The Firebird Youth Chinese Orchestra (FYCO) rivaled other notable youth concert groups by treating Santa Clarans to a dazzling performance.


FYCO performed musical numbers that were familiar to many in the crowd. While most of the songs FYCO performed were Chinese, two of the songs – Blue High Mountain and Day Flower – were Taiwanese. The music might have been familiar, but chances are, the names of the instruments were not. With instruments bearing names such as Sheng (mouth organ), Bangdi (Chinese flute), Qudi (Chinese flute), Daruan (smaller four-stringed guitar), Yangqin (dulcimer), Zhonghu (two-stringed violin), Pipa (four-stringed lute), Liuqin (treble lute), Suona (oboe/trumpet), Zheng (plucked string instrument), Zhongruan (larger four-stringed guitar), Guzhend (lap harp), Dizi (bamboo flute) and Erhu (two-stringed violin), there might have been a lack of familiarity among some of what type of sound they produced. However, that didn’t affect anyone’s enjoyment of the music as the audience was treated about ten different selections including several solo performances as well as numbers that featured the entire orchestra.

FYCO has held yearly concerts since 2004 and consists of 21 musicians, ranging in age from 7 to 18 years old. Just as with other youth ensembles, it is surprising how seasoned and professional the student musicians are. Currently FYCO has over 100 students split up into five groups – Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood and Fire. Earth is designed for students with no Chinese instrument experience and focuses on basic instrument techniques. Metal and Water build on what the student knows and teaches techniques at the intermediate level. These two groups perform with players of other instruments in a basic ensemble class. Wood and Fire focus on individual techniques at a higher level. Students attend advanced ensemble classes and perform with the full Chinese orchestra.

FYCO’s annual concert will be held on Saturday, May 12th, at San Jose’s California Theater. Classes on how to play a Chinese musical instrument are held at San Jose City College every Saturday. For more information on FYCO visit:, email:, or call (408) 253-5998.


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