Beijing concert-goers will have a variety of choices in the New Year holidays, including Western symphonies, traditional music and pop concerts.
For the sixth time running, Beijing municipal government will sponsor a concert at the Great Hall of the People on New Year's Eve, featuring a leading Western orchestra and Beijing Symphony Orchestra.
This year's concert will feature the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from the United Kingdom and its guest conductor Barry Wordsworth.
The concert, which boasts both Western classical and Chinese music, was chosen specially for the holiday and is expected to be of a ''world-class standard, but with Chinese characteristics."
As is the convention, the concert will star musicians from both home and abroad, including Chinese-American violinist Cho-Liang Lin, pianist Li Jian, soprano He Hui, tenor Wang Feng and Liu Huan, and Italian tenor Mario Malagnini.
Tan Lihua, chief conductor of Beijing Symphony Orchestra, and Wordsworth will conduct the China-meets-West concert in turn.
He Hui, 30, became known in the international world of music when she won Second Prize in the Placido Domingo's Operalia International Competition, held in Los Angeles in September 2000.
The jury of the prestigious competition applauded her extraordinary vocal style, labeling her "the most important voice for Verdi's operas which has appeared in competitions over the last few years."
Last April, He made a name for herself at the 42nd International "Voices for Verdi's operas" Competition when she won First Prize.
Last year, following a proposal from Placido Domingo, she was signed up by the Los Angeles Opera for the title role of Aida and by the Washington Opera for the role of Liu'er in Turandot. With Domingo, she also gave some important concerts in various international theatres.
Violinist Cho-Liang Lin is known the world over for the beauty of his sound, as well as his technical mastery and interpretive abilities.
He is one of today's foremost violin virtuosos, appearing annually with the world's greatest orchestras and on recital and chamber music programs on five continents.
Born in Taiwan in 1960, Lin began to play the violin at age 5. Recognizing he needed to pursue his violin studies abroad, he made his way to Australia by himself at age 12, where he spent three years.
His commanding technique and precocious abilities then led him to Juilliard, where he has studied with the legendary star-maker Dorothy DeLay since 1975.
She later said of her student, "his thinking, if you can get behind his joking, is elegant, the way a physicist might say an equation is elegant."
The Los Angeles Times noted, "Lin has become a beloved icon. He communicates through music to that wider audience that always seems to recognize and reward the rare combination of virtuosity and humanity."
Liu Huan will sing the aria of Massenet's Werther. It is not the first time that the pop singer has sung operatic aria at a concert. At the closing gala concert of the Fifth Beijing Music Festival, he displayed his splendid pop-trained voice together with other renowned opera singers.
What's more, for a French major in college, the French liberties would not bother him much.
"I do not want to compete with those real tenors, I just feel fascinated by classical music and hope to sing as a fan, but with my own style," said Liu.
After the New Year Concert, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform a concert on its own under the baton of Barry Wordsworth at the Beizhan Theatre on January 3.
Music from Britain
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1946 by Thomas Beecham, with the aim of creating a world-class ensemble whose emphasis on quality combined with flexibility would attract the best players in the country.
While the core of the Orchestra's concerts are in London, it tours regularly throughout the country and its role as Britain's national orchestra is reflected in its ever-increasing range of activities all over the world.
Since Beecham's death in 1961, a series of distinguished maestros guided the Orchestra's musical development and today, under the direction of Daniele Gatti (Music Director since 1996), the Orchestra continues to expand its international reputation, whilst maintaining a deep commitment to its self-appointed role as Britain's national orchestra.
Gatti has a rare gift for moulding phrases, like a sculptor shaping an exquisite vase. He has trained the orchestra to near-perfection.
"Its string section is now among the finest to be heard in London in terms of rich sonority and unanimous articulation, and the ensemble in general is distinguished both by the quality of its solo playing and by the way in which timbres blend one with another," the Daily Telegraph wrote in April 2002.
One of Britain's most sought-after conductors, Barry Wordsworth, is the Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as a frequent guest conductor with many of the major British Orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Central Orchestra of Traditional Chinese Music will give a New Year concert at Century Theatre on Friday and Saturday, sponsored by Weimen Culture Company Ltd.
The concert will feature a rich repertoire from classic pieces such as Chunjiang Huayueye (Spring Night on the Moonlit River, Prelude of Spring Festival, Jasmine Flowers and contemporary works composed by Tan Dun and others.
Composed of four movements, Tan's Yellow Earth Suite (Chinese title is Northwest Suite) (1986) is rich in the flavors of northwest China.
The first movement reflects the drought of the loess plateau in northwest China and the local people's desire for rain. The second and third movements depict the folk customs of weddings -- how the guests and relatives crowd in the bridal chamber to tease the new couple on their wedding night and play practical jokes on them, and how the bridegroom imagines the bride, whose head is covered under a red silk veil.
The last movement is developed from the folk drum dance music Shiban Yaogu.
Another contemporary work, Yao's Dance Suite is rearranged by Peng Xiuwen, based on Liu Tieshan and Mao Yuan's orchestration of the same title. The music describes the Yao people's happiness in celebrating their festival.
Played on gaohu, a high-pitched two-stringed instrument, the main theme represents dancing young ladies, then tunes on the sanxian and ruan, two plucked instruments, symbolizing the vibrant young men joining in. The young ladies and men express their love for each other and all the people sing and dance to celebrate the festival.
The orchestra will also perform some rearranged Western pieces such as Czech folk music Thunder Polka and the prelude of the opera Carmen.
Many well-known soloists including erhu player Li Yuanyuan, dizi player Wang Ciheng and pipa player Wu Yuxia will play at the concert. Li Fuhua will play a jinghu concerto Ye Shenchen (Still of Night), which is rearranged from a Peking Opera tune. Jinghu is a stringed-instrument specially used in Peking Opera.
Established in 1960, the Central Orchestra of Traditional Chinese Music is devoted to developing traditional Chinese music.
Over the past four decades, the orchestra has toured more than a dozen countries. Its performances have thrilled audiences in world-famous concert halls, including the Vienna Golden Hall (1998) and Carnegie Hall in New York (1999).
However, it is just like an old Chinese saying goes -- the fragrance of the flowers growing in the garden smells sweeter to people outside the wall than those inside -- people at home do not show the interest in traditional Chinese music as much as those abroad.
Traditional Chinese music has been strongly affected by classical Western music and pop music and is losing fans drastically at home.
"We are happy to see Chinese music arouse foreign people's enthusiasm, but that is not all. Chinese music grows from this country, so we could not only tour abroad," said Gu Xiayang, head of the orchestra.
He tells China Daily that the orchestra is making efforts to promote traditional Chinese music in two ways.
One is encouraging composers to score or rearrange works on the traditional instruments or combine traditional ones with Western instruments.
The other is cultivating potential audiences, especially young people, by performing on campus, sharing their knowledge of traditional Chinese music before the concerts and giving concerts in popular holidays among young people such as Christmas and Valentine's Day.
The China Philharmonic Orchestra will hold New Year concerts on December 31 and January 1 and 2 at the Poly Theatre, with the concert on New Year's Eve televised across the country on channel 1 of China Central Television.
This will be the third time since its founding in 2000 that the China Philharmonic Orchestra has held concerts to celebrate the new year.
Under the baton of Yu Long, its artistic director, the concert will also feature pianist Xu Zhong, tenor Fan Jingma, bass Tian Haojiang and pop singer Mao A'ming.
Tian Haojiang, the first Chinese bass to perform on the Italian opera stage and acclaimed as one of the top 10 bass singers in the world, will sing the arias of Philip II in Verdi's Don Carlos and arias of Prince Igor in Borodin's opera Prince Igor.
Tian and tenor Fan Jingma will also sing a duet in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.
Fan is one of the established Chinese tenors abroad. BBC said he "has a voice as charming as those of Pavarotti and the legendary Beniamino Gigli" when he won the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in Britain in 1987.
Shanghai-born pianist Xu Zhong studied piano since age of 3, and attended Shanghai Conservatory of Music, later studying with Dominique Merlet at Conservatory National de Musique de Paris.
Xu is the winner of several major international piano competitions and has been recognized by the international classical music performing world.
At the concert, Xu will play Saint Saens' Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor and Berlioz's serenata.
Mao A'min, one of the most popular pop singers in late 1980s and early 1990s in China, now is back in the spotlight in the pop music circle. She will sing Si Nian (Missing), one of her best-selling songs and Huahao Yueyuan (Blooming Flowers and Full Moon), an old Chinese pop song.
Sit back and relive the romance of the 1950s and 60s as you stroll down memory lane with the world famous Platters at Poly Theatre at the New Year Eve.
Sponsored by Beijing Music Radio, it is also a concert to celebrate the 10th birthday of the station.
During the 1950s, the Platters had the US falling in love and The Platters in Beijing is one of its successors, continuing this romantic tradition today.
The Platters were the most popular vocal groups during the first few years of the rock era, and its successor has an endless supply of old favorites -- from Only You and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes to The Great Pretender.
Formed in 1953 in Los Angeles, the original Platters were one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s, selling 53 million records and becoming one of the first doo-wop groups to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1990).
The original members were; Tony Williams, the lead vocalist (Tony died in 1992), David Lynch, tenor (David died in 1981), Alex Hodge, baritone, who was soon replaced by Paul Robi (Paul died in 1989), Herb Reed, bass, and Zola Taylor.
Only You was their first top 10 hit single in 1955, followed quickly by their first number one record, The Great Pretender.
In the ensuing years, the list came to include nearly 40 hits and 16 gold records.
(China Daily December 27, 2002)