Playlist: Classical Chinese Music for Lunar New Year

By Adela Skowronski |

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A red envelopeThe Lunar New Year is an annual celebration observed by many Asian countries, though not always at the same time. The calendars of many East Asian countries, such as China, Korea, and Vietnam, place the Lunar New Year around late January and early February. Calendars for many Southeast and South Asian countries, meanwhile, celebrate the New Year between late March and early April. The celebratory period itself takes place over the course of about 15 days and ends on the day of a full moon.

The first Lunar New Year in 2023 will take place between January 22nd and February 5th. In Chicago, WFMT’s hometown, the Lunar New Year celebrations are a great time to celebrate the city's large Chinese and Chinese American communities. After all, Chicago has among the greatest population of Chinese and Chinese American people in the country, and Chicago’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in the United States.

Chinese Lunar New Year in Chicago contains many iconic and traditional elements: lanterns in the lucky color red, lion dances, and of course, Chinatown’s annual parade. Music also plays a huge part in Lunar New Year festivities. Tradition dictates music for the occasion should be loud, joyous, and filled with percussive elements to chase away evil spirits... especially the ancient evil spirit Nian.

Plenty of cultural organizations, Chinese schools, and community centers plan out their own special events during this important season. As you decide how you wish to honor the upcoming Lunar New Year, here’s a playlist of Chinese classical music.

Note: Not all recordings are available on both Spotify and Apple Music

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