Fo­rum ex­am­ines role played by tech­nol­ogy in mu­sic

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 12 Life - By CHENG YUEZHU [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Lead­ers of China’s clas­si­cal mu­sic com­mu­nity ex­am­ined how tech­nol­ogy and dig­i­tal me­dia are chang­ing sym­phonies, or­ches­tras and the field as a whole at the fourth China Orches­tra Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Man­age­ment Fo­rum in Shen­zhen — a me­trop­o­lis in Guang­dong prov­ince that’s con­sid­ered as a sci-tech hub — over Nov 10-11.

Fo­rum chair­man Nie Bing, who’s also direc­tor of the Shen­zhen Sym­phony Orches­tra that was es­tab­lished in 1982 — three years after Shen­zhen’s found­ing — says the change has been vast since the re­form and open­ing-up.

“Most peo­ple didn’t even know how to speak Man­darin in the early years after Shen­zhen be­came a city,” Nie says.

“But we saw that peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ated mu­sic. So, it’s im­por­tant for us to pop­u­lar­ize (clas­si­cal) mu­sic ... We’ve started to use new me­dia and on­line me­dia in re­cent years. We’ve ex­per­i­mented on WeChat to pub­li­cize our orches­tra with good re­sults.”

Ningbo Sym­phony Orches­tra’s deputy direc­tor, Tong Ming, says the Chi­nese mes­sag­ing app has im­proved pub­lic­ity.

“We post on our pub­lic ac­count ev­ery other day. The con­tent cen­ters on per­for­mances, in­clud­ing spe­cific reper­toires and mu­si­cians.”

He cites an ar­ti­cle posted on the group’s ac­count about Sym­phonie Fan­tas­tique, with the head­line — “A love story about a fan­boy pur­su­ing his god­dess” — about how French com­poser Hec­tor Ber­lioz wrote the sym­phony out of his love for Ir­ish ac­tress Har­riet Smith­son.

China Phil­har­monic Orches­tra direc­tor Li Nan crit­i­cizes the use of “click­bait”.

“I can un­der­stand mar­ket­ing meth­ods, but I wouldn’t rec­om­mend vul­gar­iza­tion and cater­ing to au­di­ences like this. There are some things we need to hold onto.”

But Ningbo Sym­phony Orches­tra’s new me­dia pub­lic­ity has proven suc­cess­ful, con­sid­er­ing the group is only three years old.

“It’s re­mark­able that nearly all their WeChat posts get over 5,000 views,” clas­si­cal mu­sic record­ing en­gi­neer Liu Da says.

“The or­ches­tras’ posts usu­ally get about 3,000 views each in to­tal, which is al­ready quite a lot.”

Zurich Cham­ber Orches­tra’s artis­tic and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Michael Buh­ler, ex­plained var­i­ous ways in which his group has been us­ing tech­nol­ogy to en­liven per­for­mances and pro­mote clas­si­cal mu­sic among the youth.

The orches­tra strives to in­no­vate to cre­ate im­mer­sive theater ex­pe­ri­ences, Buh­ler says.

It placed trans­par­ent pro­jec­tion screens in front of and be­hind the orches­tra at one per­for­mance to cre­ate a holo­graphic ef­fect, so older au­di­ence mem­bers could en­joy the mu­sic and the youth would also like it.

The orches­tra also once brought in an artist who painted dur­ing the con­cert to ex­press the mu­sic’s move­ment with flow­ing col­ors. Au­di­ences are al­lowed to take pho­tos and film, and share these on stream­ing and so­cial me­dia plat­forms, which also ex­pands the au­di­ence base.

“Teenagers are very me­di­adriven,” Buh­ler says.

“In one project, we gave them a piece of clas­si­cal mu­sic and asked them to pro­duce a video. And we played the five best videos in the con­cert. The videos move me to tears ev­ery time.”

China’s or­ches­tras are also work­ing to pop­u­lar­ize clas­si­cal mu­sic among the younger gen­er­a­tion. This ful­fills both their so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mote mu­sic lit­er­acy and their need to at­tract more con­cert­go­ers.

The Shen­zhen Sym­phony Orches­tra es­tab­lished three youth or­ches­tras of dif­fer­ent age groups in 2015.

“Youth or­ches­tras can be con­ducive to art ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren and teenagers,” Nie says. “If the kids love clas­si­cal mu­sic, their par­ents will take them to con­certs and fall in love with the mu­sic, too. I be­lieve the es­tab­lish­ment of our youth or­ches­tras has pro­moted clas­si­cal mu­sic’s pop­u­lar­iza­tion.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Michael Buh­ler, the artis­tic direc­tor of the Zurich Cham­ber Orches­tra, talks about the uti­liza­tion of tech­nol­ogy in clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs at the orches­tra fo­rum in Shen­zhen.

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