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Chants of the old

Updated: 2015-10-14 07:40:19

( China Daily )

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Liu Sola, who finds new energy in ancient music, will perform with her ensemble at the ongoing Beijing Music Festival. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

When The Heaven & Earth Totem/China Beat concert opens on Oct 19 in Beijing's popular bar area of Sanlitun, the audience will experience something which is more like a shamanic ritual.

"I hope our post-ancient rhythms can lead our audiences into a trance. Ideally, it's a concert for a stand-up audience, so you can walk, dance, jump and shout. That's the energy we spread through our music," says Liu Sola, one of the country's pioneering musicians, who will perform with the Liu Sola & Friends Ensemble at the 18th Beijing Music Festival, which runs through Oct 24.

Liu, 60, graduated from Central Conservatory of Music in 1983, the top music academy in China, as a composer along with classmates including Tan Dun and Chen Qigang, the first generation of Chinese composers to be recognized in the West.

Breaking away from the shackles of academia, she has been pushing the boundaries of music by collaborating with musicians of various styles, including jazz, rock, Peking Opera and Chinese folk music. She is also an award-winning novelist, a film actress and a vocal performance artist.

In 2003, she founded her group by teaming up with Chinese instrumentalists, including Chinese percussionist Li Zhengui, pipa player Yang Jing, guqin player Wu Na and rock guitarist Liu Yijun.

During the upcoming performance in Beijing, the ensemble will feature new members, including Gert Mortensen, a percussionist from Denmark who worked with Liu on her operatic work, The Afterlife of Li Jiantong, in 2009.

Mortensen was trained in the prestigious soloist class at The Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen and is now a professor and head of timpani and percussion at the school.

To allow Mortensen's percussion to blend in with the Chinese musicians in the ensemble, especially traditional Chinese instrumentalists, Liu has composed seven new works for the performance, including the opening piece, The Heaven & Earth Totem.

Liu says that the works deal with the relationship between humans, animals and nature.

"I am interested in the primitive energy of music. There are many traditional Chinese music works that imitate animal sounds. Ancient records speak of music that imitates the phoenix singing, which symbolizes the sound of a supernatural power," says Liu, who will give a vocal performance with Chinese soprano Wu Jing.

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