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06 January 2022, 09:47

East and West combine as festivals open


BEIJING, 6 January (BelTA - China Daily). - Under the baton of conductor Chen Xieyang, the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra and the China National Traditional Orchestra will perform a fusion of classical symphonic and traditional Chinese music at a gala on Thursday at the capital's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center. It will open the 22nd Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival and the Meet in Beijing Olympic Culture Festival.

Gathering creative team members, including director Tian Qinxin, scriptwriter Qin Xinmin, singers Cai Chengyu, and Tan Weiwei, the gala will also include appearances by Chinese athletes, such as short-track speed skater and China's first-ever Winter Olympics gold medalist Yang Yang, freestyle skiing world champion Li Nina, and world champion figure skaters Pang Qing and Tong Jian.

"The gala will bring a sense of musical fusion to the audience, combining classical music with traditional Chinese sounds. There will also be choral singing, dancing and soloists performing traditional Chinese musical instruments. It will be a nice mix of styles," says conductor Chen, 82, who is the artistic director of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra.

It will be the first time the group and the China National Traditional Orchestra work together, he adds.

The gala will premiere Glorious Overture: Flame, a new piece composed by musician Tang Jianping, which features melodies from Chinese classical music piece Meihua Sannong (Three Variations on the Plum Blossom) and Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach.

Veteran pipa player Zhao Cong, president of the China National Traditional Orchestra, will perform a pipa piece, Melody of the Winter, with the two orchestras. Composed by Zhao, the piece is dedicated to the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games and will be performed with the support of stage technology, such as an immersive XR(Extended Reality) stage experience, delivering a dynamic virtual event.

Other highlights will see Jasmine Flower, a popular Chinese folk song, performed by soprano Lei Jia, featuring melodies from Giacomo Puccini's famous opera Turandot.

Moreover, along with real performers, Luo Tianyi, one of the most popular Chinese virtual idols, will appear in the gala performing a song, titled Time to Shine.

According to Chen Guangxian, director of the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra will also give a concert at Beijing Concert Hall on Sunday, performing two pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich: The Gadfly Suite and Symphony No 10 in E Minor.

Between 1929 and 1970, Shostakovich wrote more than 30 movie soundtracks and his score for the 1955 film, The Gadfly, remains a firm favorite.

"I first watched the movie when I was a student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music," recalls the octogenarian conductor Chen Xieyang. "The music is memorable and it continues to be popular today."

On March 10, 1985, the conductor led the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra to premiere Shostakovich's Symphony No 10 in E Minor in China, which he says is his favorite piece by Shostakovich.

"I first listened to the piece in 1953 when I was a student at the middle school affiliated to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. It was very cold outside and I passed by a room where many college students were listening to the piece together on a radio," recalls Chen Xieyang. "It felt like an amazing journey, full of emotion."

On Nov 18, on the occasion of the fifth birthday of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, Chen Xieyang led the orchestra to perform The Gadfly Suite and Symphony No 10 in E Minor in a concert held at Jinji Lake Concert Hall, home of the orchestra.

With an average age of 30, the orchestra features about 80 musicians from 17 countries and regions, including China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. Chen Guangxian, director of the troupe, says that the establishment of the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra was a unique experience and helped create special bonds with musicians from around the world.

Suzhou has a rich history of ancient art forms, such as pingtan, which combines storytelling and ballad singing in the Suzhou dialect, and Kunqu Opera, one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera that dates back more than 600 years.

The orchestra has come to Beijing to perform as part of the Suzhou Arts and Culture Week, from Thursday to Jan 20. The Suzhou Ballet Theater, Suzhou Song and Dance Theater, Suzhou Kunqu Opera Troupe, and Suzhou Pingtan Theater will also perform in the capital.

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