Music connects Canada and China

Updated: 2013-10-16 07:07

By Chen Jie (China Daily)

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Music connects Canada and China

From top: Musicians from Canada's NAC Orchestra stage a brass quintet at Fragrant Hills. They coach the brass orchestra of Beijing No 2 Middle School. Photos Provided to China Daily

On a Monday afternoon at Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan), tourists unexpectedly met a brass quintet playing Bach and Brahms.

Wednesday morning, people at Beijing Zoo came across a brass trio playing near the pandas. They are all musicians with Canada's National Arts Center Orchestra who are on the first tour to China in its 44-year-history.

"Fragrant Hills is famous for its maple leaves, which is the symbol of Canada. As for the panda, it is loved by people all over the world and China has sent two pandas to Canada as gifts," says Mary E. Hofstetter, consulting director of music education, NAC Orchestra, explaining why they chose these two particular places to stage pop-up concerts.

After the warm-up events, the NAC Orchestra will give a concert at Tsinghua University on Wednesday and a concert at the National Center for the Performing Arts under the baton of its music director Pinchas Zukerman on Oct 17. The maestro, who is first a violinist, will play Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No 1, a work for which he received a rave review from the New York Times this year.

From Oct 4 to 21, 70 musicians from the orchestra will visit schools and concert halls in Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Chongqing, Fuling city in Chongqing and Shanghai, to present a multitude of education and outreach activities.

Music connects Canada and China

On Monday, Zukerman gave a master class at the Central Conservatory of Music while other musicians coached the brass orchestra of Beijing No 2 Middle School.

On the morning of Oct 17, they will give a special high-definition video concert at NCPA, linking the Stellae Boreales Violin Ensemble, which is performing in Ottawa, and the students from the Middle School of the Central Conservatory of Music who will be playing in Beijing.

Mark Rowswell (known in China as Da Shan), probably the most famous Canadian in China, will host the performance in NCPA with Laureen Harper, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, hosting in Ottawa.

Peter Herrndorf, CEO of Canada's National Arts Center, says they've put in great efforts to work on this project with NCPA for the last five years.

"In fact, NAC and NCPA share very similar goals to bring music to people and to promote music education. Through the collaboration, we could share experience, programs, knowledge and opportunities," he says.

"We have always been a touring orchestra, since 1969. We've done 31 international tours and performed in 122 cities, but we are desperate to bring the orchestra to China. For us, music, education and friendship go hand in hand."

He adds that he has already invited the NCPA orchestra to perform in Canada next November.

"We see that arts and culture are an important way to express and represent China to the world," says Chen Ping, NCPA's president. "Through the agreement between NCPA and NAC, we would strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries."

Founded in 1969, the NAC is Canada's only bilingual multi-disciplinary performing arts center. It is a leader in new media outreach in the arts and has created website, where people around the world can follow its classes and concerts. Zukerman has given dozens of online classes to students outside Canada.

"Music has no boundary, and music is the language that is understood by people from every corner of the world. I demonstrate the gesture in front of the video in Ottawa then students in China or anywhere can see," says the maestro.

"The most important thing we can do in any relationship with any country is bring them what we do best," he says. "In my case I know how to play the fiddle and make music. So I bring that to China with an open heart and an abundance of feeling."

Among the orchestra are She Xiaoxue, a 28-year-old violinist from Shenyang, China, and Shi Shuai, 24, from Shanghai, who are both apprentices in the NAC Orchestra's 2013-2014 Institute for Orchestral Studies. Shi also assists Zukerman with his master classes in Beijing and Shanghai.


(China Daily 10/16/2013 page18)