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Friday, October 13, 2017, 12:33
A musical marathon
By Chen Nan
Friday, October 13, 2017, 12:33 By Chen Nan

Ten Chinese orchestras will play at a major Beijing festival. Chen Nan reports.

The China National Symphony Orchestra is among the 10 Chinese symphony orchestras to present Orchestral Marathon Chinese Symphonic All-Stars on Oct 14 in Beijing. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The Beijing Music Festival will present Orchestral Marathon Chinese Symphonic All-Stars on Oct 14, featuring 10 hours of performances by 10 Chinese symphony orchestras.

Each ensemble will perform for about 45 minutes of music at Poly Theater.

They include the China National Symphony Orchestra, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and the China Philharmonic Orchestra.

"It will give the day an atmosphere of a classical music festival, which will be the first time in China," the BMF's program director Tu Song says.

"The whole day of performances will be challenging and exciting for the audiences."

The whole day of performances will be challenging and exciting for the audiences

Tu Song, BMF’s program director

Tu adds that the Orchestral Marathon's unique program marks the annual festival's 20th anniversary.

"The day will allow people to meet, share and learn about these Chinese symphony orchestras," says conductor Li Xincao, who'll take the baton and perform with the China National Symphony Orchestra.

The programs will be dedicated to Chinese composers and works, including The Moon Over a Fountain by Hua Yanjun and Wu Zuqiang, Festival Preclude by Shi Wanchun and Mulan Medley by Guan Xia, who's also the China National Symphony Orchestra's director.

"These works are from different generations of Chinese composers, so they represent the original forces of classical music in China," says Li.

The Kunming Nie Er Symphony Orchestra will debut on the BMF's stage.

The orchestra founded in Yunnan's provincial capital in 2010 is named after composer Nie Er (1912-35), who wrote China's national anthem, March of the Volunteers, with Chinese poet and playwright Tian Han (1898-1968).

The orchestra will play two pieces featuring Yunnan's distinctive music style - The Torch Festival by composer Wang Xilin and Suites Ashima, adapted by composer Zou Ye from the namesake theme music of the movie, Ashima.

"We are thrilled to perform at the Beijing Music Festival and to share the stage with so many top Chinese symphony orchestras. It will be a learning and showcasing opportunity for us," says Huang Yi, artistic director and conductor of the Kunming Nie Er Symphony Orchestra.

Huang, as maestro Gustav Kuhn's assistant conductor, conducted Richard Wagner's last opera, Parsifal, in 2013. The piece is a coproduction of the Beijing Music and Salzburg Easter festivals.

Tan Lihua will conduct the Beijing Symphony Orchestra during the performance. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Huang joined the Kunming orchestra in 2016. He says its goal is to promote original pieces with Yunnan style, since the province is known for its ethnic diversity.

Conductor Yang Yang, as the artistic director and president conductor of the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra, will lead the ensemble to perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme and Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird. Cellist Wang Jian will join the performance.

Yang first performed as a conductor at the BMF in collaboration with Spanish guitarist Josep Henriquez and the China Conservatory of Music's orchestra as a student of the conservatory in 1998.

"It was a rare opportunity for a young student to perform onstage and with world-class musicians," Yang recalls.

"It was unforgettable."

The conductor, who was born into a musical family and enrolled in the Central Conservatory of Music's affiliated middle school at age 12, has performed at the BMF many times over the past two decades.

He credits the BMF for not only displaying world-class orchestras and musicians but also for offering young conductors a platform.

Other highlights will include the China Philharmonic Orchestra performing Richard Wagner's Tannhauser Overture and Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra, Op 30 under Xia Xiaotang's baton.

The Beijing Symphony Orchestra will play Georges Bizet's Prelude to Carmen and Johannes Brahms's Hungarian Dance, No 5 conducted by Tan Lihua.

And the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will present Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No 1 in G Minor, Op 26 and the violin concerto, Butterfly Lovers, by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao.

If you go

10 am-3 pm, 5 pm-10 pm, Oct 14. Poly Theater, 14 Dongzhimen Nandajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6506-5343.

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