Attend US Premier of ‘Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage’

Kennedy Center Hosts First Concert Drama by Chinese Orchestra


China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA) brings the United States premiere of Image China: Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage to The Kennedy Center Opera House (2700 F St. NW) from January 25-27, 2019. Performed by the China National Traditional Orchestra (CNTO), the production is the first concert drama by a traditional Chinese orchestra.

Founded in 1960, CNTO is a state-level performing arts institution in China. Members of CNTO— comprising an orchestra of traditional instruments and a chorus—are highly-esteemed musicians both at home and abroad. The orchestra highlights traditional Chinese musical themes, while incorporating modern technology into its productions.

A Scene from Act 11 in the CNTO production of of Image China: Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage. Photo courtesy of China Arts and Entertainment Group

Down the Silk Road

The dramatic production of Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage tells the story of the Buddhist monk, Xuanzang (602- 664), who traveled the length of the Silk Road across China to the West. As an ancient network of trade routes, the Silk Road played a significant role in opening long-distance political and economic relations and promoting cultural interaction between China and other countries. Xuanzang documented his experiences of the differences within Buddhism he encountered along the way. His 17-year journey was driven by his desire to discover religious texts that had not yet come to China.

The story is brought to life through a large-scale, multimedia experience, with a company of more than 100 performers. Live musicians, striking, colorful design, elaborate costumes, stunning, high-definition digital projections, and an epic story combine to make this an unforgettable event for audience members.

“The year of 2019 happens to be the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. The US premiere of Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage will be of great significance to promote the culture exchange and emotional connection between two countries. I believe that US audiences will be greatly impressed by this landmark production about the history of Chinese national music.” said Xi Qiang, Member of CPPCC/CPC; Secretary, CNTO.

Stunning projections immerse the audience in Xuanzang’s journey, taking them along the Silk Road through an adventure of the sights and sounds of his discoveries and creating a mesmerizing visual effect that reflects his strong will, sacrifice, and perseverance.

of Image China: Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage

Diverse and Connected

The production showcases the diverse yet connected cultures found along the legendary Silk Road. The performance features exotic instruments that include the bamboo flute, xiao, huqin, pipa, suona, ruan, konghou, ghaychak, rubab, dombra, hobez, satar, dap, eagle flute and muqam from the peoples of Han, Uighur, Kazak, Tajik, and beyond. It highlights the long history of a rich cultural exchange between the various ethnicities living in the region.

Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage is part of Image China, a high-level cultural exchange program presented by CPAA’s parent company China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG), that introduces traditional and contemporary Chinese performing arts to audiences around the world.

Since its inception in 2009, Image China has presented works at performance venues across the globe, including Lincoln Center in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and on stages throughout Europe and Australia.

The story of Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage is told over 110 minutes, with one intermission. Shows take place Friday, Jan. 25, Saturday, Jan. 26 and Sunday Jan. 27. Information and tickets are available online at Learn more about Image China and the production by visiting their Facebook Page.