Turn­ing po­etry into song

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PERFORMANCE - By CHEN NAN

In­spired by a col­lec­tion of Chi­nese po­ems from the 11th to the 7th cen­tury BC known as Shi Jing, or Clas­sic of Po­etry, Chi­nese com­poser Zou Hang went on to write a slew of songs that blended mu­sic with el­e­ments of po­etry.

Three years and more than 40 re­vi­sions later, these songs will be per­formed dur­ing the up­com­ing Shi Jing Cai Wei mu­si­cal at the Tian­qiao Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter in Bei­jing on Oct 20 and 21. The mu­si­cal will fea­ture both tra­di­tional Chi­nese mu­si­cal in­stru­ments and Western string in­stru­ments.

“I have al­ways been fas­ci­nated with Chi­nese po­etry, es­pe­cially the rhythm of the lines. They are like songs to me and I want to dis­play the lines on­stage mu­si­cally,” says Zou, who stud­ied at the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic in Bei­jing with renowned Chi­nese com­poser Ye Xiao­gang.

“It’s chal­leng­ing to write a mu­si­cal based on the poem which only has eight lines. Chi­nese po­ets ex­press deeper mean­ing with sim­ple words.”

Zou, who has been teach­ing at the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic af­ter ob­tain­ing his master’s de­gree in 2001, had help from song­writer Liang Mang, who wrote lyrics for his songs in the mu­si­cal.

Chi­nese singers Li Weipeng and Jiang Qianru play the lead­ing roles in the mu­si­cal. The two mu­si­cians grad­u­ated from the mu­si­cal per­for­mance de­part­ment of Shang­hai Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic and have per­formed in a num­ber of Chi­nese mu­si­cals, in­clud­ing Mu­sic Up and The Moon and Six­pence.

Ac­cord­ing to the mu­si­cal’s pro­ducer Dai Xiaolan, Clas­sic of Po­etry show­cases tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture from ev­ery as­pect, such as farm­ing, mar­riage and old cus­toms.


A stage photo of Shi Jing Cai Wei, a mu­si­cal to be staged in Bei­jing on Oct 20 and 21.

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