"Special Dialogue" in Music to Welcome New Year

"Golden Spring," a concert combining both Chinese traditional music and Western symphony will be staged at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Saturday to celebrate the New Year.

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Central Orchestra of Traditional Chinese Music will present half a concert each. There will also be two conductors, one Czech and one Chinese.

Established in 1960 and based in Beijing, the Central Orchestra of Traditional Chinese Music is devoted to developing traditional Chinese music.

Composed of musicians who play traditional Chinese instruments, the orchestra has more than 100 solo and ensemble works in its repertoire.

Over the past four decades, the orchestra has toured more than a dozen countries.

Its performances have thrilled audiences in world-known concert halls and theatres such as the Carnegie Hall in New York and the Vienna Golden Hall.

However, these days, it appears that some audiences are not very enthusiastic about Chinese traditional music.

"This type of music is being strongly affected by classical Western music and pop music, traditional Chinese music is losing fans drastically at home," said Gu Xiayang, president of the orchestra.

"Introducing traditional Chinese music to the world is only a part of our work," he said. "Besides, we first want audiences at home to listen to our music and to like it."

According to him, traditional Chinese music always reminds people of old songs like "Full of Joy" (Xi Yang Yang), "Spring Night on a Moonlit River" (Chun Jiang Hua Yue Ye) and "Colourful Cloud Chasing the Moon, (Caiyun Zhui Yue), they know little about the newly composed ones."

"We have fallen into a vicious circle, the less people listen to our music, the fewer concerts we give, and the fewer concerts we give, the less new music people hear and the less they like and listen to our music," Xia said.

So he considers this joint concert a great opportunity for the orchestra. He said: "It is a special dialogue between traditional Chinese music and a Western symphony. It is a small step on the road to promoting traditional Chinese music at home."

Zhang Wei, a white-collar in an IT company looks happy after buying the tickets for him and his wife. "It is a rare chance to enjoy traditional Chinese music to celebrate the New Year as so many Western symphony orchestras or ballet companies have rushed into the market in Beijing," he said.

Wang He, a junior college student said: "It is a good idea to combine different orchestras in one concert because I can appreciate two kinds of music together."

In the first half, the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra will perform some works by Gershwin, Dvorak, Shostakovich and Smetana under the baton of Vladimir Valek.

In addition, they will also accompany Li Yuanyuan from the Central Orchestra of Traditional Chinese Music, who will play "Erhu Rhapsody No 1 and 2" composed by Wang Jianmin, under the baton of Wang Jin.

The second half will consist of many newly composed Chinese pieces including "Northwest Suite" composed by Tan Dun, a world-famous Chinese musician, who won an Oscar Award for his original music of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" last year.

It will also star Feng Xiaoquan and Zeng Gege, the popular couple who play traditional Chinese music. Feng plays the suona, a woodwind instrument and Zeng, his wife, plays dizi, the Chinese bamboo flute.

With a rapid rise to fame in both traditional and pop music circles, their music is a mixture of both styles. "I want my music to have more listeners, so I will consider their tastes and the trends more," Feng said.

(China Daily December 26, 2001)

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