Met star will host recital at Carnegie

Updated: 2013-12-09 11:02

By Hu Haidan in New York (China Daily USA)

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Met star will host recital at Carnegie

Confucius' Analects say that "at 30, a man should stand firm".

Inspired by Confucius, international opera star bass Tian Haojiang will host a recital at Carnegie Hall on Dec 17 to mark his 30th year since arriving in the US and celebrate his music and his story.

Tian said the recital will have a broad representation of his experience, from his childhood memories to the arias he performs on the stage today.

"Each song has a story behind it," he said. "These songs will convey the story of my life."

Tian cited one American song in particular that he will perform - Some Enchanted Evening. "This song means so much to me, as it led me onto the path of a career in music and totally changed my life," he said.

The song - from Rogers and Hammerstein's 1949 Broadway musical South Pacific - was the first song in English he ever learned as a graduate student at the University of Denver in 1984. His music teacher at the time, Martha, is now his wife.

"This touching love song is very dear to me," Tian said. "It reminds me of the sweet memories between my wife and me."

Tian chose Dec 17 as the recital date for another sentimental reason.

"I came to the US exactly 30 years ago, on Dec 17, 1983, with $35 in my pocket, and I could only speak four words in English: Hello, Thank you, Hi and Bye," he said.

On that same day, Tian spend $8 for a standing-room-only pass to the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Verdi's Ernani. The lead tenor was Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes the baritone, and the conductor was James Levine.

"You can imagine how shocked and amazed I was, as a young man who knew nothing about opera, watching this as the first one in my life," said Tian. "That experience started a dream for me."

Tian's dream came true in 1991 when he was signed by the Met, where he has performed now for two decades.

Today, he is recognized as one of the first generation of Chinese singers to reach the pinnacle of Western operatic art, having sung for the past 19 seasons not only at the Met, but at most of the major opera houses of Europe and Asia as well.

Tian said he would never have gotten to where he is today without the help of his vocal teachers and mentors, his colleagues and friends in the opera circle, and of course his wife.

"All of this has helped me realize that one should not only get help from others, but also give back to those who may need help," said Tian.

Tian said he and his wife have helped about 100 young Chinese singers in their studies and career development.

They also help bring not only Western singers, but also conductors and instrumentalists, to China to help them get a sense of Chinese culture. He established the I Sing Beijing program in 2011.

I Sing Beijing promotes cross-cultural understanding and the burgeoning Chinese contemporary operatic scene. Now in its third year, I Sing Beijing reflects the growing migration of modern Chinese music into Western classical music.

"We have been encouraging young singers the world over to go to China and sing Chinese songs," said Tian.

During the recital on Dec 17, Tian will perform four songs with members of the I Sing Beijing program.

Tian said as an opera singer, the happiest - and most important - thing is to share your feelings and ideas with others through music.

"I think the concert will be a good opportunity for me to reunite with old friends andget closer tomy fans," he said.

(China Daily USA 12/09/2013 page2)