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China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

Per­form­ers, in­clud­ing young and the es­tab­lished artists who per­formed in the 1964 show, will stage the his­toric song and dance gala the Peo­ple in Bei­jing on Dec 24. 7:30 pm, Dec 24. The Great Hall of the Peo­ple, west of Tian’an­men Square, Xicheng dis­trict, Bei­jing. 400-610-3721.

To mark the 80th an­niver­sary of the end of the Long March, the his­toric song and dance gala The East Is Red will be staged at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing on Dec 24.

The song and dance ex­trav­a­ganza made its de­but at the same venue in 1964, to mark the 15 th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of New China. It had more than 3,000 per­form­ers and was watched by a full house led by late premier Zhou En­lai. Zhou was also the di­rec­tor of the gala.

The gala, which com­prised 35 songs and 12 dance pieces, re­traced mod­ern China’s revo­lu­tion­ary path, in­clud­ing the Long March, a two-year tac­ti­cal re­treat by the Red Army to evade Kuom­intang forces start­ing in 1934, and China’s War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45).

Through the decades, the show has been staged many times fea­tur­ing clas­sic and new items, in­spir­ing gen­er­a­tions of Chi­nese with its revo­lu­tion­ary fer­vour and pa­tri­otic lyrics and dances.

The songs per­formed in the 1964 gala, such as East Is Red, Fly­ing Over Daduhe River, Long March, Song of the Guer­rilla, and Pro­tect­ing Yel­low River, have in­spired le­gions over the years.

This time, more than 300 artists, in­clud­ing mu­si­cians from the Bei­jing Dance Drama & Opera, cho­rus of the China Mu­si­cians As­so­ci­a­tion will per­form in the gala.

Es­tab­lished artists who per­formed in the 1964 gala will join in the per­for­mance. They in­clude tenors Li Guangxi, Liu Bingyi and so­prano Deng Yuhua.

Lin Zhonghua, 85, who was the host of the 1964 gala, will also join in the new pro­duc­tion. Be­sides play­ing host at the show, he will re­cite po­ems writ­ten by late Chair­man Mao Ze­dong.

Ac­cord­ing to the gala’s di­rec­tor, Feng Qiusheng, the up­com­ing show will be faith­ful to the orig­i­nal ver­sion staged in 1964, in­clud­ing dance pieces, songs and po­etry.

“The gala will bring back mem­o­ries,” says Feng, who re­calls that he watched the show in 1964 when he was 14.

“I can still re­mem­ber the cho­rus per­formed in 1964. Hun­dreds of singers stood on a tall stage. It was a grand scene.”

Feng also says the gala is a TheEastIsRed re­sponse to the com­ment of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping urg­ing artists to build con­fi­dence in Chi­nese cul­ture, serve the peo­ple and cre­ate more in­spir­ing and clas­si­cal works.

“The gala not only brings back melodies but also car­ries for­ward the revo­lu­tion­ary spirit, which the gala em­braced decades ago.

“For a young au­di­ence, it is a great ex­pe­ri­ence to learn and get in­spired by the past,” he says.

An­other veteran who re­calls the 1964 gala is Li

at the Great Hall of

Guangxi, an 88-year-old tenor, who is known for his per­for­mances in Verdi’s opera La Travi­ata, Soviet comic opera Ar­shin mal-alan and Chi­nese opera Red Flow­ers on Tian­shan Moun­tain. He per­formed a song, Along Songhua River, in the 1964 gala.

He re­calls it took him two months then to pre­pare for the show, but though the artists came from dif­fer­ent parts of China and de­spite the large num­ber of them in­volved the re­hearsal process was very smooth.

“I was hon­ored to per­form at the show. Ev­ery­one, the artists and the staff mem­bers, took re­spon­si­bil­ity. The sig­nif­i­cance of the gala went be­yond the singing and the danc­ing. It let peo­ple know the his­tory of mod­ern China, es­pe­cially the rev­o­lu­tion and the birth of New China. It was also a great ex­pe­ri­ence of team­work,” says Li.

So­prano Deng Yuhua was also among the per­form­ers at the 1964 gala.

She was 22 then and per­formed a song, Long Last­ing Friend­ship, which was writ­ten in 1962, and was based on the friend­ship be­tween the Red Army sol­diers and the Yi eth­nic group dur­ing the Long March.

“I was very ner­vous be­cause I did not feel I could per­form with so many veteran artists on such a big oc­ca­sion,” she re­calls.

“But the ex­pe­ri­ence was life-chang­ing.

“Dur­ing my long ca­reer, I have per­formed the song many times, but I still feel touched when­ever I sing it.”

Con­tact the writer at chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The first na­tional youth orches­tra was founded in the United King­dom in 1948. And the NYO of the United States started in 2013, as a pro­ject of Carnegie Hall.

Now China will have its own NYO: 100 young mu­si­cians from all over the coun­try will take re­hearsals and at­tend master classes and work­shops at West Con­necti­cut State Univer­sity in the US for two weeks, and fi­nally play a for­mal con­cert at the Carnegie Hall on July 22, 2017.

Renowned artists in­clud­ing French con­duc­tor Lu­dovic Mor­lot and Chi­nese pi­anist Wang Yu­jia will work with the stu­dents for the con­cert.

On­line au­di­tions for NYO China started on Dec 17.

As part of the process, mu­sic stu­dents from China — ages 14-20 for the wind sec­tion and 14-19 for the other in­stru­ments — can make ap­pli­ca­tions, by sub­mit­ting their re­sumes, rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters and video clip­pings of them­selves play­ing to the of­fi­cial web­site Ny­ochina.org.

The videos will be sent to pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians from both China and the US. They will first be judged by con­duc­tor Mor­lot and NYO China’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Cai Jin­dong.

All the judges will also sub­mit feed­back to the stu­dents.

“Even if you are not con­fi­dent about get­ting in, hav­ing a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian give you feed­back is a great en­cour­age­ment,” says Robert Blocker, the Henry and Lucy Moses dean of mu­sic at Yale Univer­sity, who is a se­nior ad­viser to NYO China.

NYO China is not just about per­for­mances, says Mor­lot, the con­duc­tor. “It is a deeper jour­ney that will cre­ate life­long re­la­tion­ships. An ini­tia­tive like this can in­spire a whole gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple.”

“These young mu­si­cians are go­ing to play in the great con­cert halls of the world, work­ing and mak­ing mu­sic with some of the most cel­e­brated artists across the globe. This will be a trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for them,” says Blocker.

The ap­pli­ca­tion win­dow will open un­til Feb 28, and the re­sults will be an­nounced by April 2. Win­ners will have two weeks of play­ing and re­hears­ing to­gether in the US.

Blocker says that be­ing able to spend time with like-minded stu­dents is the thing that the mem­bers of NYO Amer­ica ap­pre­ci­ated the most.

Blocker also says he very much looks for­ward to the first re­hearsal of NYO China.

“The first thing you do af­ter check­ing in is to take your in­stru­ment, go to the re­hearsal hall, and ev­ery­body is go­ing to play to­gether.”

For most of the stu­dents, it will be the first time they hear so many peo­ple of their age.

“It will com­pletely open you up,” says Blocker. “When you see the light on their faces — it is life chang­ing.”

Speak­ing at the launch of the NYO China pro­ject in Shang­hai, Gary Locke, for­mer US am­bas­sador to China, says: “NYO China will bring peo­ple to­gether through the com­mon lan­guage of mu­sic. It will help break down bar­ri­ers that ex­ist be­tween coun­tries and pro­mote un­der­stand­ing of each other’s cul­ture and his­tory.”

The idea for the NYO pro­ject was born in 2015 when Chi­nese-Amer­i­can Danielle Ac­cet­tola ac­com­pa­nied NYO USA on its de­but tour to seven cities in China, which was spon­sored by the Wail­ian Over­seas Con­sult­ing Group.

Then, one-third of the young mu­si­cians on the trip were Asian, and Ac­cet­tola saw how “their eyes lit up” when they saw China, the home­land of their par­ents and grand­par­ents, for the first time.

Later, her son, Vin­cent Ac­cet­tola, a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Har­vard Univer­sity and now the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of NYO China, in­spired her to launch the NYO China pro­ject.

Speak­ing of how he got the idea, he says while there are na­tional youth or­ches­tras in Bri­tain, Brazil, Sin­ga­pore, France and the US, “there has never been a real na­tional youth orches­tra in China. So, why not start it, es­pe­cially since China is a coun­try with so much mu­si­cal po­ten­tial?”

Tenor Li Guangxi, 88, will sing the old song was the host of the 1964 gala, will join in the new pro­duc­tion. Right: Lin Zhonghua, 85, who

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