Culture\Music and Theater

Taking center stage in the Middle East

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-23 08:10

Taking center stage in the Middle East

Zhang Yi, conductor of the NCPA orchestra. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

The National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra will make its first foray into the Arab world by staging two concerts at the Abu Dhabi Festival on Friday and Saturday.

It will present Tchaikovsky's Slavonic March, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 with pianist Zhang Haochen and Dvorak Symphony No 9 in E Minor under conductor Zhang Yi's baton on Friday.

The orchestra will also perform Bach's Chaconne in D Minor, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite and The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto with violinist Lyu Siqing.

"The pieces we'll perform are well-known and classic," says Zhang Yi, who's one of China's most influential young conductors.

"The NCPA orchestra is still young. Some of the most talented young Chinese musicians perform in the orchestra, and they'll display the high level of classical music in China."

The NCPA orchestra was founded in 2010-three years after the iconic namesake venue's opening. It performs regularly for the center's operatic productions and has worked with world-renowned maestros such as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Christoph Eschenbach.

It performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall under the baton of conductor Valery Gergiev in Moscow in 2015.

The NCPA orchestra will launch its second North American tour this year. It performed in seven US and Canadian cities under conductor Lyu Jia in 2014.

Zhang Yi notes that The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto-a masterpiece by Chinese composers He Zhanhao and Chen Gang-is on the program list at the Abu Dhabi Festival committee's request.

"The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto is the most famous Chinese violin concerto," says Zhang Yi.

"It's not just a significant piece in China but also played by musicians from around the world."

Celebrated violinist Lyu Siqing says: "I've toured with the NCPA orchestra many times. As far as I can recall, we performed The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto every time. I've never performed in the Middle East and, along with the NCPA orchestra, I'm very excited to play for new audiences in Abu Dhabi."

He has performed in dozens of countries with celebrated musicians.

The annual Abu Dhabi Festival has invited top artists and troupes from around the globe to promote cultural communication since its 2004 founding.

Highlights of this year include performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, and US jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

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