"If God had a singing voice, it would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli," Celine Dion once said. Fitting then that the great Italian tenor has lent his vocal talents to a composition that may be chosen as the official song of the Beijing Olympics.
Composed by Tan Dun and produced by 14-time Grammy Award winner David Forster, the song One World One Dream was submitted last week to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.
Featuring traditional Chinese instruments - the guzheng and erhu - and a world-music-style orchestration and chorus, the song showcases the universal love, friendship and warmth Chinese people bring to the world, Tan said.
Bocelli is joined by rising Chinese star Zhang Liangying, with each of them singing in both Chinese and English.
"For the past eight years, I have been seeking a voice to sing for the Beijing Olympic Games," Tan said.
"The voice had to be both of China and of the world, be warm, full of love and able to last forever.
"David and I planned to have Celine Dion and Bocelli sing the duet, but when he (David) heard Zhang's voice, he said she was the perfect match for Bocelli," he said.
An internationally renowned composer, Tan's musical credits include winning an Oscar for the score for the hit movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Canadian producer Forster said in Beijing yesterday: "This is my first visit to China, but I can already tell why everybody loves this country.
"I always knew my life would not be complete until I had discovered music in Asia and worked in Asia. Tan has given me a great opportunity to achieve that goal," he told China Daily.
"I respect Tan. He is a genius, like Mozart or Beethoven. He is also one of the few people I know who works well on both classical and pop music," he said.
"Tan has the vision, and I believe he knows how to make a piece of music belong to both China and to the world.
"But I have never worked so hard: Tan kept changing things. The finished song is actually the 18th version," Forster said.
The lyrics were written by Tan and his wife Jane Huang Jingjie "Stand next to me, I want to see you in this place. You are everywhere I look, as the light falls around your face. Stay and take my hand. How many moments do we get. All is right in this world of ours and time will go as time must go. Time will do what we both know."
"I hope the song expresses the love between East and West, old and new, God and man, and men and women," Tan said, adding that his inspiration came from the scenes of people celebrating the end of World War II in 1945, in Times Square, New York.
"Strangers were hugging and kissing each other," he said.
"At the opening ceremony, I want there to be that kind of passion and love that we want to share with the people standing next to us, even strangers."
(China Daily March 20, 2008)