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Young global mu­si­cians at China’s first Eurochestries event

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

We can un­der­stand each other when we per­form mu­sic to­gether.” Torstein Hol­maas, a mu­si­cian from Nor­way who per­formed at the fes­ti­val in Qing­dao

Suit and tie, vi­o­lin, home­work, Zhang Mux­i­ang can still vividly re­call re­peat­ing to him­self the three most im­por­tant things he had to take with him on a trip to Que­bec dur­ing his sum­mer va­ca­tion in 2012.

Then 11, he was ner­vous as it would be his first trip abroad without his par­ents. He was also ex­cited be­cause along with about 50 mem­bers of the Golden Sails Sym­phony Orches­tra of Bei­jing No 8 Mid­dle School, Zhang was go­ing to per­form for the first time at the Eurochestries Fes­ti­val, one of the world’s largest youth clas­si­cal mu­sic ex­change plat­forms.

“The sum­mer va­ca­tion in Que­bec was un­for­get­table,” says Zhang, now 17. “I am still in con­tact with the con­duc­tor we worked with in 2012.”

Back in 2012, he was the youngest mem­ber of the orches­tra; now he is the old­est and the orches­tra’s prin­ci­pal vi­o­lin­ist.

He re­cently per­formed with the Golden Sails Sym­phony Orches­tra at the first Eurochestries Fes­ti­val held in China.

“I was re­ally ex­cited that the fes­ti­val came to China this year. It en­abled me to share mu­sic with so many mu­si­cians in what is my last year with the orches­tra,” says Zhang, who will grad­u­ate from Bei­jing No 8 Mid­dle School next sum­mer.

Held in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, from July 26 to Aug 5, the Eurochestries Fes­ti­val at­tracted 20 or­ches­tras from 13 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the CasaSawt Choir from Morocco, the Choir of the Univer­sity of Wro­claw from Poland and Bei­jing Phil­har­monic Sym­phony Orches­tra, who staged a to­tal of 26 con­certs across the coastal city.

At the fes­ti­val am­a­teur stu­dent mu­si­cians from China, in­clud­ing the Pek­ing Univer­sity String Quar­tet and the Zhi Xing Brass Quin­tet from Ren­min Univer­sity of China, also shared the stage with pro­fes­sional sym­phony or­ches­tras.

They per­formed at var­i­ous places, from in­door con­cert halls to out­door venues.

“It was very in­spir­ing for me as I have de­cided to pur­sue a pro­fes­sional ca­reer in Ger­many af­ter grad­u­a­tion,” says Zhang, who was in­tro­duced to mu­sic by his par­ents, both bank clerks, and started learn­ing vi­o­lin at 3.

Torstein Hol­maas, the trum­pet player with the brass quin­tet of the Ber­gen Phil­har­monic Orches­tra of Nor­way, spent 24 hours traveling from Ber­gen to Qing­dao. “I am de­lighted to come all the way here to per­form in China, for the first time,” he says.

The brass quin­tet per­formed a con­cert, play­ing clas­sic songs from Nor­way, as well as col­lab­o­rat­ing with Chi­nese mu­si­cians at the clos­ing cer­e­mony.

“The level of young Chi­nese mu­si­cians is very high and they are easy to play with. Though it’s dif­fi­cult to com­mu­ni­cate through lan­guage, we are good at us­ing body lan­guage and we can un­der­stand each other when we per­form mu­sic to­gether.”

The Eurochestries Fes­ti­val was founded in 1989 by French com­poser and cho­rus con­duc­tor Mar­cel Cor­neloup to pro­mote the or­ches­tral prac­tice of young mu­si­cians aged 15 to 25, through in­ter­na­tional ex­changes.

In early 2016, Bei­jing-based vi­o­lin­ist and con­duc­tor Liu Zheng made a pro­posal to the com­mit­tee of the fes­ti­val to bring it to China an­nu­ally.

Hav­ing par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral Eurochestries fes­ti­vals held across the Europe, Liu, who stud­ied mu­sic at the Univer­sity of Mu­sic and Per­form­ing Arts Vi­enna from 2000 to 2003, wanted to or­ga­nize a fes­ti­val in his home coun­try with an aim of bring­ing wider mu­sic ex­po­sure to Chi­nese stu­dents.

“I was impressed by the at­mos­phere of the mu­sic fes­ti­val when I went there for the first time in 2000. The mu­si­cians from dif­fer­ent coun­tries not only per­formed to­gether but also lived to­gether, like a sum­mer camp,” re­calls Liu. “I took some Chi­nese sym­phony or­ches­tras to Eurochestries fes­ti­vals but I wanted more young Chi­nese mu­si­cians to ex­pe­ri­ence the fes­ti­val and ben­e­fit from it.”

For the first Eurochestries Fes­ti­val in China, Liu wanted to show­case young mu­si­cians play­ing mu­sic from their own coun­tries.

But he also drew up sched­ules for mu­si­cians from dif­fer­ent coun­tries to per­form to­gether un­der the ba­ton of con­duc­tors from yet an­other coun­try.

“It was chal­leng­ing be­cause the num­ber of mu­si­cians was large (500 in all) but they are very dis­ci­plined and de­voted to this project, de­spite the cul­tural and lan­guage dif­fer­ences,” Liu says, adding, “Mu­sic unites peo­ple.”

Be­tween 2005 to 2012, the Golden Sails Sym­phony Orches­tra of Bei­jing No 8 Mid­dle School, founded in 2002, per­formed at the Eurochestries Fes­ti­val four times, play­ing mu­sic pieces rang­ing from Torch Fes­ti­val by Chi­nese com­poser Wang Xilin, which was in­spired by the eth­nic mu­sic of Yun­nan prov­ince, to waltzes by Jo­hann Strauss II.

Dur­ing the fes­ti­val held in Qing­dao this year, the orches­tra played pieces, in­clud­ing the se­cond move­ment from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sym­phony No 10.

“The stu­dents chal­lenged them­selves suc­cess­fully with very de­mand­ing mu­sic pieces,” says Liu Lu, con­duc­tor and mu­sic teacher of the orches­tra, who grad­u­ated from the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic with a con­duct­ing ma­jor and joined in the orches­tra in 2005.

“But it’s not just about mu­sic. It teaches the stu­dents how to ac­com­plish things and how to com­mu­ni­cate.”

PHOTOS BY VERDE YANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Some 500 mu­si­cians from 20 or­ches­tras at­tend the first Eurochestries Fes­ti­val held in China, in­clud­ing the Golden Sails Sym­phony Orches­tra of Bei­jing No 8 Mid­dle School (top left and cen­ter), Trio Sonata from Mex­ico (top mid­dle), Chi­nese and French con­duc­tors Liu Zheng (top right) and Re­volte Claude (above left), the CasaSawt Choir from Morocco, and the brass quin­tet of the Ber­gen Phil­har­monic Orches­tra of Nor­way.

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