Classical sound of music enjoys the beat of pop

2020-12-24 12:04:36

Soprano Song Yuanming sings the vocal part of a piece by Ludwig van Beethoven. With musicians from Beijing Symphony Orchestra, she performed in a recent preview of their New Year's concert to be held on Jan 1 in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily] During the past 20 years, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra has kept alive the tradition of performing a concert on Jan 1 every year at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. On Dec 10, musicians of the orchestra gave a preview of the upcoming New Year's concert, which will be held on Jan 1, 2021. Their concert will have listeners tapping their feet not just to classical favorites, but to rock and pop music as well. For the classical part, they will play repertories, including Spring in Buenos Aires by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla and German composer Ludwig van Beethoven's Egmont Overture. While for the rock and pop, they will highlight themes on romance, family bonds and friendship. Conductor Li Biao, artistic director of Beijing Symphony Orchestra, knows the concert has a place in the cultural calendar. "It will be a special New Year's concert for both us performers and the audience due to the pandemic. Concert halls have been shut for months around the world, and music fans want to enjoy a gig with friends once again," Li says. "We want to entertain and comfort our audience with music while welcoming the new year." The program will see a performance of the Carnival Overture by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, as well as The Blue Danube and Voices of Spring, both by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II. Actress Yong Mei, who won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in the film, So Long, My Son, will make her stage debut as a singer, performing with her husband, Luan Shu, a former rock star and now a songwriter. The couple will adapt and perform a song titled One River and Two Geese, written by Chinese composer Qin Yongcheng and lyricist Zhang Li, alongside Beijing Symphony Orchestra. Yong says: "I am very excited to sing with my husband on stage for the first time. I am a big fan of classical music and Li Biao is a childhood friend of my husband, which brings us closer to the orchestra." Before this, the actress had worked as the narrator of another concert, titled Sleepover at the Museum for Children and Family. It featured a new multimedia orchestral work by American composer and author Karen LeFrak based on her children's book of the same title, which was performed by musicians from the Beijing Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Li at Poly Theater in Beijing on Oct 17. Along with the orchestra, Luan will also perform his original song, Share, with a new arrangement. Moreover, the concert will feature 20-year-old Chinese pianist Ju Xiaofu playing Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, a composition for solo piano and orchestra by Russian composer Sergey Rachmaninoff. Soprano Song Yuanming will perform the Chinese song, I Love You, China, written by Chinese composer Zheng Qiufeng and lyricist Qu Cong. The concert will be closed out with Estancia, an orchestral suite from a one-act ballet by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. "As the year's end is around the corner, we always review the whole year and look forward to the new one. For classical musicians from all around the world, 2020 has been both very special and equally difficult," says Li. "We've been through the shutdown of concert halls when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Then we have seen the gradual opening of the venues and the audiences grow from only 30 percent capacity to 75 percent." He adds that he can still recall the concert by the orchestra on July 31 at the Forbidden City Concert Hall, their first public performance after the hiatus caused by COVID-19. "It was our first real concert in 188 days," recalls Li. "We received real applause from the audience for the first time in months. The atmosphere was surprisingly good. "I hope that it will be possible to play full-house concerts again soon."