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The 7th China Shanghai Arts Festival Came to a Successful Close

The month-long 7th China Shanghai International Arts Festival came to a successful close.  

Accompanying the beautiful rhythms of "Swan Lake", the month-long 7th China Shanghai International Arts Festival came to a close on November 18 at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

As an official state-level function, the annual China Shanghai International Arts Festival has been drawing back the viewing curtains since 1999, making last month its seventh outing. Aimed at presenting the best in world culture and promoting Chinese art, this year's festival gave us 65 different events from 24 countries and regions. 

Sun Jiazheng, the Chinese Minister of Culture, describes the festival as a grand gathering for exchanges in the field of art, as well as a carnival that everyone can enjoy. He also explains the original intentions of this festival.

"In the year of 1999, China Shanghai International Arts Festival was held for the first time. The original intention of holding such a festival was quite simple. Art, after all, is a means of satisfying people's increasing demand for spiritual culture. Through this art festival, we have tried to accelerate domestic cultural life in China, and to make it prosperous and more familiar to the world."

Sun further explains the importance of such an art festival.

"Art is a carrier of emotion. When people enjoy art, they're actually moving deeper into the inner worlds of other people.  This Shanghai-based festival provides us Chinese with a broader reach into the rich and colorful lives of people in different countries and regions. It arouses our awareness towards a splendid and diversified world, to which we should all devote our love. In this way, a spirit of philanthropy can be cultivated, which is important and essential in order to make a more peaceful, brighter future for humankind."

After six years in the business, the China Shanghai International Arts Festival has built a firm bridge for cultural exchange, a route for new talent and a vehicle for artistic innovation.  This comes in accord with the four objectives of this occasion, as again explained by Minister Sun Jiazheng.

"Firstly, this event aims to present the essence of our national culture. To this end, highly rated works from different regions throughout China, including ethnic minority regions, were displayed during the festival.  Secondly, classic world culture has been introduced through our festival.  This provides us with an all-round picture of world culture, as well as helping to acquaint ourselves with China's own ancient history.  Thirdly, this grand cultural gathering satisfies the needs of the public, while, last but not least, it also inspires increased artistic creation.  The gathering of different cultural ideals inevitably leads not only to clashes but also to mutual improvement."

In this seventh year of the festival, great improvements have been made in the quality and quantity of performances, with Sino-Foreign cooperative projects making a major contribution. The latter includes a Sino-Italian version of the classic opera "The Barber of Seville", as well as the Sino-Canadian acrobatic show "ERA." World-renowned performing troupes and maestros also raised the festival's prestige, such as Berlin Philharmoniker and its conductor Sir Simon Rattle, violinist Joshua Bell, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and etc.

The 7th China Shanghai International Arts Festival also presented 19 exhibitions and expositions, which drew a combined attendance of 150,000. These events followed various themes such as Chinese Art & Craft, Classic European Painting from the 15th and 16th centuries and the Treasures from Versailles.  In total, more than 15,000 works of arts and crafts were on display.

Apart from those formal exhibitions, specialized art themes were also on show, including "the Egyptian Cultural Week" and "Yunnan Cultural Week." Traditionally, a guest nation is invited to co-organize a cultural week for their country, but this year's Yunnan Cultural Week was the first chance for a Chinese province to promote itself.

Yunnan, literally meaning "the land south of the clouds", is home to 26 ethnic groups, whose diverse treasure of culture, arts and customs has becoming increasingly well-known both home and abroad. As the very first cultural week centered on a province of China, "Journey to the Land of Wonderful Yunnan " presented a series of representative stage performances and exhibitions, which gave a rare opportunity to experience this mysterious province without even leaving the metropolis of Shanghai.

The Yunnan Folk Handicrafts Fair was one such example, which painted a full picture of the region's kaleidoscopic handiwork. This fair was divided into 17 categories, including paper handicrafts from the Naxi ethnic minority, red Jianshui stoneware, Heqing earthen depictions of cats, Dali tie dye and Tengchong shadow-craft. As well as intending to showcase the diversity and quality of Yunnan folk work, this fair was also aimed at accelerating the establishment of local brands, as well as expanding the market for these products.

Of course, local performances also played a major role in the festival, including among them the epic Huaiju opera "Han Fei." Presented by the Shanghai Huaju Opera Troupe, this opera takes an incisive look at the paradoxical relationship between the great Chinese philosopher Han Fei and the King of Qin, Ying Zheng, who later conquered Qin's six neighboring states to become the First Emperor of China. Part of the intrigue is that Ying Zheng could only do so by adopting a strategy formulated by Han Fei, even though Han hailed from one of the Qin's rival states. Directed by the established Shen Bin, this play captivated a modern audience with its refined performance style, mesmerizing plot and enticing melodies.

(CRI.com November 29, 2005)


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