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Beijing Comes Alive With Sound of Music

The Century Theatre will host an ambitious concert jointly performed by over 240 people from two leading US choirs and a Chinese orchestra on July 14.

Invited by the Ministry of Culture and sponsored by New York Life International, 150 members from the Hartford Chorale and New York Choral will sing accompanied by China Film Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Henley Denmead, artistic director of the Hartford Chorale.

The chorale comprises of more than 160 men and women selected annually by a competitive audition.

The singers are from the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York and come from diverse occupations.

For the past 28 years, the Hartford Chorale has delighted audiences both young and old with exciting performances of the great choral works.

During those years, the Chorale has taken pride in the fact that the group has always been profitable.

Denmead has been the choir’s artistic director and principal conductor since its establishment in 1972.

He holds degrees in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College and Indiana University.

In 1998, he made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting the choir. He has also been guest conductor with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the Hartford Chamber Orchestra and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

Founded in 1958, the New York Choral Society has earned a reputation as New York’s leading non-professional choir.

It has become known by audiences and critics for the quality of its performances and the diversity of its repertoire, which encompasses popular choral works as well as many compositions rarely heard in concert halls.

The chorus was most hailed for its “verve and assurance” by US magazine News Day, and applauded as “professional in every way except vocation” by the New York Daily News.

Denmead said the Beijing trip was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” “We’ve toured before, but always in Europe. To share this music with people of a culture so different from ours is bound to be a unique experience,” he said.

“It’s going to be a thrilling experience. There will certainly be some challenges, including very limited rehearsal time with the orchestra - not to mention the language barrier. But we’re looking forward to giving three terrific concerts.”

Despite the limited preparation, China Film Symphony Orchestra is pulling out all stops for the collaboration.

“We will present the best line-up of the orchestra for the choral concert,” said Zhang Zhige, vice-president of the orchestra.

In the first half of the concert, the audiences will enjoy some old American favorites such as “Simple Gifts”, “At the River”, “Long Time Ago”, “Zion’s Wall” and Bernstein’s “Chischester Psalms”.

There will also be selections from “The Sound of Music” composed by Richard Rodgers including “Do-Re-Mi” and “Climb Every Mountain”.

The concert will end with Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 in D minor.

(China Daily 07/13/2001)

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