IF YOU GO
TManhattan Symphonie made its debut performances in China four years ago to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of SinoUS diplomatic relations.
As the founder and conductor of the orchestra, Gregory Singer recalls: “It was not merely a friendship between the two countries but also a love affair.
“This will be our fourth time coming to China and we have an emotional bond with the country,” says Singer, whohas written a piece titled A Waltz to China, which is specially dedicated to the country and will also be performed at the concerts. “I have a strong connection with China, especially the profound culture and history. We are happy to return.”
The concerts will also feature performances by 20 Chinese children, selected from more than 20 schools and music training organizations in Beijing after a three-week audition. The children, ages 6 to 16, will give both solo and concerto performances.
One of the young performers, Ni Yuanchen, participated in the first round of auditions held at Ditan Primary School in Beijing on March 16. The 9-year-old started playing the cello at the age of 4 and has just passed theLevel 6 test (China’s music grading test for amateurs has 10 levels) held by the Central Conservatory ofMusic.
“I don’t plan to become a professional musician but I will make musicmy lifelong passion,” says Ni.
Duan Zhengkai, 6, another participant, also impressed the judges with his violin performance. “He only started learning the violin three years ago but his skill is really beyond expectation ... not only in terms of his note accuracy but also his personal interpretation,” says ZhaoXuyang, one of the judges from the Central Conservatory ofMusic.
Conductor ChenHongjing, who is the director of the Oriental Symphony Orchestra of China Oriental Performing Arts Group, says many young Chinese students have good technique thanks to their hard work but lack a deeper understanding of the works.
“Collaborating with international musicians will further helpthemconnect with classical music,” Chen says.
“When I was young I wanted to play the violin but I didn’t want to practice. My parents made me practice. But, you can’t force a person to play beautifully when they grow up. It must come from the heart, not simply imitation,” says orchestra founder Singer, who studied violin since childhood and graduated from the Juilliard School ofMusic.
According to Yan Jun, the project director, though the collaboration is challenging, Singer, who initiated the idea of having Chinese students join in the performances, is very pleased to introduce young musicians to a wider audience. He says nearly 1,000 students participated in the audition.
Driven by the influence of his father Jacques Singer, a famous conductor with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Gregory Singer founded the orchestra in 2005, which consists of young artists from places like Boston, New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia, all selected by Gregory Singer.
The orchestra has grown with better full-time members and concerts in the US’ biggest and most prestigious concert halls, including many concerts in the Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall and radio broadcasts.
In August 2013, he also brought a group of students from the Central Conservatory of Music to perform with the Manhattan Symphonie at the Dawnand Dusk music festival in NewYork, presenting great chamber music works from Beethoven, Chopin andMozart.
“I am always eager and happy to have Chinese musicians from America and China join the orchestra and play solo withmy orchestra. We have had violinists, cellists, pianists and singers from China perform with us already many times,” Singer says.
“There are many famous Chinese classical music performers all over the world. It is always my dream to help talented young musicians perform onstage and let more people share their music.” Contact the writer at email@example.com.