Jordanian soprano's album on Silk Road

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The cover of Jordanian soprano Zeina Barhoum's new album, Alcantara II-Zeina in China, in which she sings a Chinese song titled The Dream of the Silk Road. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Zeina Barhoum, a well-known Jordanian soprano, launched her new album Alcantara II - Zeina in China on April 5 at the Al Hussein Cultural Center in Amman.

The Jordanian Princess Muna al-Hussein, mother of King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Chinese Ambassador to Jordan Pan Weifang attended the launch concert, which was also the opening show at the Amman Opera Festival this year.

Alcantara, which refers to a Roman stone arch bridge in Spain, means bridging different cultures, says Barhoum.

And the album does just that with a Chinese song, The Dream of the Silk Road.

Barhoum was first exposed to the song when she performed it at the closing ceremony of the Arab Arts Festival held in Chengdu, China, last year.

It was the first time that Barhoum and Wang Chuanyue, a Chinese prize-winning tenor, performed the duet together, after which she fell in love with the song and decided to include it on her next album.

"After I performed it in Chengdu, I felt the song really belonged to me," says the Jordanian artist.

"So, I spoke to the composer and the writer of the lyrics saying that I wanted to record it and put it on my album.

"It's pretty, like the cherry on the top."

She recorded the song with Wang in Beijing accompanied by the China Philharmonic Orchestra and the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra Choir.

Speaking about the song, Wang says it highlights the importance of the ancient route linking China and the Arab world as well as its role in sparking intercultural communications, even under the Belt and Road Initiative which continues China-Arab friendship nowadays.

As for Barhoum, she says the album aims to highlight the history of the ancient Silk Road and bring China and the Arab world closer.

Barhoum started working with Chinese musicians two years ago, says Yang Ronghao, the cultural counselor of the Chinese embassy in Jordan, who worked with Barhoum on releasing the new album.

At the Amman Opera Festival in 2017 launched by Barhoum - the first opera festival in the Arab world - she invited artists from the Sichuan Philharmonic Orchestra as well as from Jordan and Italy to perform La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi in Amman.

Separately, the Jordanian soprano performed La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini last summer with the Sichuan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Barhoum, who is a classically trained soprano and a fashion designer with her own jewelry brand, is keen to build understanding and compassion through her music, including between China and the Arab world.

"It's always been a dream for me to make the world better," says Barhoum.

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