The chime bells on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York, U.S., May 31, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

An audience of some 2,000 in New York City on Friday night was fascinated by the unique music that dates back thousands of years as "Bianzhong", or chime bells, came to the Carnegie Hall with a traditional Chinese orchestra.

The ancient Chinese musical instrument is more than 2,000 years old. A set of Bianzhong often contains dozens of bronze bells with various shapes and scales, hung in a wooden frame and struck with a mallet to produce melodies.

As beautiful, lingering tunes of chime bells echoed such traditional Chinese instruments as the bamboo flute and the Erhu, performed by a contemporary orchestra, an atmosphere that blended the ancient and modern pervaded the venue.

"We're trying to bring new life to the ancient music of the chime bells," Hu Zhiping, president of the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, said, adding "This is probably the first time ever that such kind of mix has been seen on a world stage."

The Oriental Chinese Orchestra from the conservatory in central China's Hubei Province performed the concert, with highlight of the culture of the State of Chu, an ancient kingdom that lasted some 800 years till 223 B.C., and largely covered Hubei and neighboring regions. The chime bells were a major instrument in royal palaces during that era.

This is reminiscent of the grand archaeological finding four decades ago when the most noted set of chime bells were brought to light in Hubei Province from a tomb of Marquis Yi, ruler of one minor state under the control of the State of Chu.

In the main hall of the Carnegie Hall, one piece of music after another elicited rich responses from the audience. When programs with household names, like "My Motherland" and "The Jasmine Flower", were played on the stage, many couldn't help humming along with the familiar melodies.

"I really loved every minute of it," said Adam Berg, a New Yorker, after the show. As a fan of traditional Chinese instruments, Berg saw the chime bells for the first time at a concert. "I didn't expect it. It was fantastic. We need more performances like this in the future."

"We wish we could promote cultural exchanges between China and the United States through the enchantment of Chinese music," Hu said. 【By WU JIE】