The Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will present Ask The Sky & The Earth, an Oratorio-Cantata for the Sent-Down Youth this Saturday night. It’s a musical recollection of the period during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, when most of the young people in cities were sent out to the countryside to be ‘educated’ by rural farmers and workers. Music Director Urs Leonhardt Steiner and soprano soloist Yi Han Triplett (who was one such youth herself) give a preview.

There’s more about the concert at the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra and Chorus website.

The piece was written by two other ‘sent down youth’ – composer Tony Fok, and lyricist Wei Su. Yi Triplett says they successfully evoked the working daily life, and rhythm of those days. “In the beginning, I was just so touched by it,” she says. “Because it does talk about our life then, and brings a lot of old memories back. It was very difficult life, and hard work. You come home and every part of your body hurts. But we brought out pots and pans, make rhythms, sing some. Let your steam come out – to have some fun.”  Urs Leonhardt Steiner was told about the piece when they were working with a Chinese choir for last season’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth. It was going to be on a concert in Frankfort, Germany. “I happened to go to Switzerland and passed by and checked it out, because I was intrigued by the whole concept of the Sent-Down Youth, and the Cultural Revolution; a lot of these people I’m talking to are here with me, and so rarely you get to perform an important emotional moment in people’s lives directly.”