Beijing Symphony Orchestra plans musical tribute to mark Women's Day

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Cellist Namula will perform at the upcoming concert in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

To mark International Women's Day, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra will stage a concert at the Forbidden City Concert Hall (inside Zhongshan Park) on Friday under the baton of conductor Chen Lin, featuring repertories by female composers or inspired by female roles.

The Ride of the Valkyries, the beginning of the third act of Die Walkure, the second of the four operas comprising Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), will open the concert.

In Norse mythology, Valkyries is a goddess seen as a female force.

The first half of the concert will also showcase iconic female roles, including Carmen Suite No 2 from The Carmen Suites; two suites of orchestral music drawn from Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen and Red Detachment of Women Overture by Wu Zuqiang and Du Mingxin, which is from the famous Chinese ballet Red Detachment of Women, known as China's first original ballet production.

"The female roles portrayed in those works are influential and still enjoyed by audiences today," says conductor Chen, a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music.

"When we planned the programs, we wanted to dedicate the pieces to women and for them to be about women."

Chen enrolled to study conducting at the Central Conservatory of Music in 1996 under the guidance of conductor Yu Feng, who is now president of the school. And Chen has appeared at the Tanglewood Festival many times since 2000 at the recommendation of conductor Seiji Ozawa, who she served as an assistant.

Chen also invited her colleague, renowned Chinese cellist Namula, of the Ewenki ethnic group, who is also a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music and president of the affiliated middle school, to perform during the second half of the concert.

At the show, Namula will perform Chinese composer Fang Dongqing's Nostalgia-originally written for violin and orchestra-which has been adapted for cello and orchestra. Namula will also play Variations written by Zhang Yixin, a young female composer, who is a PhD candidate at the Central Conservatory of Music, along with around 20 young Chinese cellists, who are Namula's students.

Namula, who was born into a music-loving family in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, began studying at the affiliated middle school of the Central Conservatory of Music at the age of 9, and has been dedicated to music education at the conservatory since 1992.

Speaking about her role at the show, Namula says: "Women are making a huge impact on classical music every day, whether composing, conducting or performing. And since it's International Women's Day, we want to showcase the power of young Chinese female musicians."

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