Clas­si­cal com­po­si­tion cap­tures the sounds of Bei­jing

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By CHEN NAN

There are many ways to ex­pe­ri­ence Bei­jing — such as through mu­sic.

Com­poser Du Mingxin has con­densed the city’s sounds into his lat­est piece, Ode to Bei­jing for Piano and Orches­tra, which pre­miered at the cap­i­tal’s Na­tional Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts on Oct 10.

Pi­anist Yuan Fang per­formed the piece with the NCPA orches­tra to a long ova­tion when the con­duc­tor walked on­stage af­ter­ward.

“I was ex­cited at first and then felt chal­lenged when I was com­mis­sioned to com­pose Ode to Bei­jing be­cause so many pic­tures of Bei­jing ap­peared in my head,” Du says.

The 89-year-old spent a month cre­at­ing the work us­ing hand­writ­ten notes.

Du is cel­e­brated for such mas­ter­pieces as the 1964 Red De­tach­ment of Women bal­let and the sym­phonic ver­sion of the Pek­ing Opera, Women Gen­er­als of the Yang Fam­ily.

He has in­te­grated the classic Pek­ing Opera piece Ye Shen Chen and pop­u­lar Bei­jing folk songs into the lat­est tune.

He se­lected pi­anist Yuan to de­but the piece, as she has done for other works by Du, in­clud­ing Dream of Po­tala Palace for Piano and Orches­tra.

“She has a solid tech­nique,” Du says.

Yuan was born in Shen­zhen and started learn­ing piano at age 4.

The 35-year-old came to Bei­jing at age 11 to study at the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic’s af­fil­i­ated mid­dle school.

She spent years learn­ing un­der Ger­man pi­anist Ger­hard Op­pitz while ma­jor­ing in piano and cham­ber mu­sic at the Mu­nich’s Univer­sity of Mu­sic and Per­form­ing Arts, start­ing in 2001.

“I lived in a hu­tong (al­ley) near Bei­jing’s Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic when I was 11 and was pre­par­ing for my en­trance exam for the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic’s af­fil­i­ated mid­dle school,” she re­calls.

“Ode to Bei­jing re­minds me of my days of in the hu­tong. I was into the score when I got it in Septem­ber. The piece is full of the cap­i­tal’s color and brings back lots of mem­o­ries.”

Yuan re­turned to China to be­come a piano pro­fes­sor at the con­ser­va­tory in 2008. She is now an in­de­pen­dent pi­anist based in Shen­zhen.

She will per­form with the Shen­zhen Sym­phony Orches­tra, the Ber­lin Phil­har­monic Orches­tra, the China Phil­har­monic Orches­tra and the Hangzhou Phil­har­monic Orches­tra from through Novem­ber.

The Oct 10 recital also pre­miered young com­poser Li Bo’s Fei Han and renowned com­poser Zhao Jip­ing’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo No 1, fea­tur­ing vi­o­lin­ist Ning Feng.

“This is my first vi­o­lin con­certo. I’ve been imag­in­ing it for more than 20 years,” Zhao says.

He is cel­e­brated for scor­ing movie sound­tracks for such fa­mous film di­rec­tors as Zhang Yi­mou and Chen Kaige.

“The lan­guage of clas­si­cal mu­sic is Western. But au­di­ences will in­stantly feel the Chi­nese style upon hear­ing the work,” Zhao says.

The NCPA’s vice-pres­i­dent, Li Zhix­i­ang, says: “The NCPA show­cases Chi­nese com­posers’ new works ev­ery year to pos­i­tive au­di­ence feed­back. We’ve re­mained ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing orig­i­nal Chi­nese ma­te­rial since the NCPA was founded 10 years ago.”

The recital also in­tro­duced ex­cerpts from orig­i­nal Chi­nese Oc­to­ber

Arts in Bei­jing. The lan­guage of clas­si­cal mu­sic is Western. But au­di­ences will in­stantly feel the Chi­nese style upon hear­ing the work.”

Zhao Jip­ing,


opera pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing arias from Lan Huahua and Jin­sha River.

The NCPA com­mis­sioned com­poser San Bao to write the opera, Genghis Khan, sched­uled to be staged in 2018. The NCPA Cho­rus’s tenor Wang Cong and so­prano Li Xin­tong per­formed ex­cerpts at the recital.


Pi­anist Yuan Fang per­forms with the NCPA orches­tra Ode to Bei­jing for Piano and Orches­tra at the Na­tional Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing

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