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Authors: Wang Yang and Ju Zi
Publisher: New World Press (2008)
Price: 19.80 yuan
Why do so many middle-aged and older people like to participate in chorus in parks? How do young people think about this? What does this activity mean?
Professor Heberer of the Duisburg-Essen University, an expert on social science observed that people participating in the chorus were very happy; they sang revolutionary songs, and no one opposed the government or the Communist Party. However, not everyone comes for the same reason. Some people are idle, and others regard singing as a kind of physical exercise, especially those who are not so healthy. There are also some who are not so happy about the society. If they are not allowed to sing, what will they do? They will feel lonelier or even resentful. If they could express their dissatisfaction through singing, it helps them feel at ease. So the government does not interfere but, instead, encourages such activities which create a cultural atmosphere and maintain social harmony.
In fact, however, the reasons for middle-aged and older people to participate in chorus singing are much simpler than what the media or scholars of social science think. Some just want to kill time, and others like to develop hobbies. Still others want to ease of their past unhappy experiences.
A Beijing reporter interviewed an old couple, who said that it was fun to sing and they enjoyed singing both old and new songs. They have made many new friends. Chorus singing has been their joy of life.
A middle-aged lady said that she goes to Yuyuantan Park on weekend mornings for physical exercise and chorus singing. She used to sleep a lot at home but always felt tired. Now singing has brought her energy and happiness.
As the reporter commented, one cannot really understand why people like these activities so much until one actually becomes one of them. Chorus singing satisfies the needs of middle-aged and older people for culture, and is also good for their health and family life.
Nowadays, chorus singing can be seen not only in Beijing but also in many other cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou.
In Jiaxing of Zhejiang Province, chorus singing has become an everyday activity. According to the Jiaxing media, the enthusiasm for chorus singing has turned it into a popular cultural activity and a daily entertainment. The 10-year-old Jiaxing Xiucheng Chorus Group has won several awards since 1995, including the third prize in a national chorus competition, and the first prize in the First Zhejiang Chorus Competition. The group also staged at the Nevers International Chorus Festival, France. Xu Yaxiang, a retired worker, recalls her experience at the festival, despite language barriers, we, together with Russian singers, sang Russian song Katyusha. It was an unforgettable thing in my life. Chorus needs harmony among various vocal sections, and this requires all the participants to cooperate. So cooperation between people helps overcome loneliness and stress. Many single men and women even found their partners through chorus activities.
For audience, chorus is a kind of entertainment and mind cultivation. Chorus art is a common language that links the people in the world. Whenever and wherever there is chorus, the minds of the singers and audience will be connected, said Ron Salzmann, the chairperson of the International Chorus Association. Young people usually support and understand their parents' chorus activities. You may see countless posts on the internet regarding chorus singing.
It has long been part of the Chinese tradition to express feelings through poems and songs. While China is advancing rapidly in economy, people need culture and music, chorus singing in particular, which seems more relevant and significant.
(China.org.cn December 8, 2008)