MYTHICAL TALES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
In line with the city’s efforts to promote Chinese culture, this year’s China Shanghai International Arts Festival kicked off with an original production about how the world was created according to local folklore a mythical theme and was created by internationally-acclaimed Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang to reflect and showcase the creative ideas in contemporary China’s music scene. According to the festival organizers, the move to have such a production open the festival falls in line with the city’s efforts over the past few years to use mythology to promote Chinese culture to global audiences. During the news conference for the produ production which was held at the Shang Shanghai Symphony Hall on Oct 17, Ye said that the creation of this symphony s has fulfilled his life- l long interest in Chinese myt mythology. “I have had this special interest est in ancient Chinese mythology ogy as early as 40 years ago, but at that time I didn’t acquire suffi sufficient techniques, and wasn’t capab capable of dealing with such a big su subject,” said the 63-year-old. “Now I am greatly honored to make my contributions to the culture of Shanghai and China.” The symphony of Hidden Tapestries — Myths of Creation
The symphony begins with the character Pan Gu separating heaven from earth to create the world before Nyu Wa molds human beings after her own form and gives them life. It also tells about China’s first marital crisis, when Chang E steals a magical potion of immortality from her husband Hou Yi and flies to the moon.
According to Chinese folklore, God gave birth to 10 sons that became the suns and they would take turns to rise in order to bring warmth to the earth. But in the event of a disaster, all 10 siblings would unite, scorching the earth with overwhelming heat.
When this happened, it was Hou Yi who saved the world by shooting down nine of the suns.
“All of these were mythical tales that contained the aspirations and philosophical ideas of the Chinese people,” Chen said. “I want to speak about the national spirit of the Chinese nation in the past 5,000 years.”
The production features seasoned Chinese vocal artists such as tenor Shi Yijie, bass Shen Yang, and mezzo soprano Zhu Huiling.
“They are among China’s finest musicians and almost all of them were either born or educated in Shanghai,” said Ye of the cast.
Aside from Hidden Tapestries — Myths of Creation, 22 other new productions will be making their debut at the CSIAF this year. In the past few years, a growing number of companies and orchestras from home and abroad have chosen to premiere their creations at the festival.
“One of the criteria to measure the success and influence of an art festival is its attractiveness to the international art scene. When you can convince important artists to make their debut or premiere their productions at the festival, it shows their respect, trust and love for your event,” said Wang.
This year, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra made its debut in Shanghai. Founded in 1938, the festival has been one of the most celebrated events in the classical music scene, attracting 110,000 visitors to the quiet Switzerland every year.
Led by maestro conductor Riccardo Chailly, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra was in Shanghai from Oct 18 to 22 and comprised five concerts, including an outdoor performance at the Gongqing Forest Park. city in
“We are always on a tight schedule on tour,” Chailly said. “This is the first time we stayed for a whole week in a city. We got to enjoy not only musicmaking, but also getting to know the city, which is so impressive, and much improved from 20 years ago when I first came.”
Acclaimed Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang leads the orchestra as they perform the opening show of this year’s China Shanghai International Arts Festival.
Above: The symphony HiddenTapestries—MythsofCreation features many seasoned vocal artists and musicians. Below: The Lucerne Festival Orchestra makes its debut in Shanghai at this year’s CSIAF.