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Spring music festival dates announced

Updated: 2024-03-22 07:22 ( China Daily )
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A scene from the Shanghai Ballet production of The White Haired Girl. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The 39th Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, the oldest music festival in China, will take place from Friday to April 14.

This festival, together with the annual China Shanghai International Arts Festival in November, is an important platform for communication between artistic institutions from home and abroad, as witnessed through the decades of development in the music and dance scenes of Shanghai, according to Xia Yujing, Party secretary of the Shanghai Federation of Art and Literary Circles, the organizer of the festival.

This year, the festival will feature 66 productions, 57 of which are concerts, with the other ones being dance shows.

The opening concert, taking place at Shanghai Symphony Hall on Friday, is a gala event that will showcase outstanding Chinese compositions in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

More than 100 pieces of orchestra will bring together around 300 musicians from several notable Shanghai institutions, including instrumentalists from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, and singers from the Shanghai Opera House, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and the children's chorus of CWI Children's Palace. It will be conducted by Yu Feng, head of the Central Conservatory of Music.

Pianist Kong Xiangdong will play Ode to the Red Flag, composed by Lyu Qiming, at the concert. The symphony piece was premiered by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra at the Shanghai Spring International Festival in 1965. "The concert will help audiences to better understand the musical heritage of the city," says Zhou Ping, director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

The closing production, presented at Shangyin Opera House on April 14, will be a joint production of The Barber of Seville by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Como Opera House in Italy.

A poster for the opening concert of the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival. [Photo provided to China Daily]

According to Liao Changyong, director of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the plan for the collaboration was eventually realized five years after it was proposed in 2019, and the production will feature vocal artists from both institutions, including award-winning artists from the annual singers' competition held by the school.

This year's festival will feature 24 international productions, more than ever before. As an integral part of the event, a mini festival will take place highlighting the musical exchanges between China and France, in celebration of the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism in 2024. Xu Zhong, director of Shanghai Opera House, will conduct Hector Berlioz's Symphony Romeo and Juliet, a representative piece of French Romantic music.

Among the visiting foreign companies is the Royal Opera House Orchestra from the Palace of Versailles in France, which will make its Shanghai debut on April 7, at Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Xin Lili, director of Shanghai Ballet, says that the company will introduce a group of young dancers at the festival, who will take the leading role of The White Haired Girl, which debuted in 1965 and was one of the first Chinese ballet productions.

"The production witnessed the early development of ballet in China," Xin says. "We have had many generations of artists performing it. If a dancer can take on the leading role in The White Haired Girl, they are very likely capable of playing any other character in a Chinese ballet production."

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