Forbidden City venue will stage a musical extravaganza in June as part of celebrations marking the Party’s 100th anniversary, Chen Nan reports.

One stage, four pianos and eight pianists may, at first glance, seem a bit crowded. But there is still plenty of room for both talent and entertainment. The admittedly unusual arrangement will be seen at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing on June 10 when eight young pianists perform together.

“It’s exciting even to think of the concert with four hands playing on each piano on that night,” says Wu Ying, a veteran pianist who is one of the organizers of the concert.

As one of the concerts marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the event will cover a wide repertoire, including such favorites as Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix Marriage, based on a popular folk song of the same title written by suona (Chinese double-reed woodwind instrument) player Ren Tongxiang. It was rearranged by pianist Wang Jianzhong (1933-2016). Sing a Folk Song to the Party, which was first released in 1963 and written by Zhu Jian’er and Jiao Ping, will also be rearranged as a piano piece.

According to Wu, the eight young Chinese pianists will also perform as soloists, featuring pieces composed by Chinese musicians that have been inspired by folk culture from different regions. Pianist Gu Jingdan will play Pictures From Bashu, which was written by composer Huang Huwei (1932-2019) in 1958 and based on six folk songs from Sichuan province. Pianist Liu Yuntian will perform Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake, originally a popular folk song from Guangdong province written by Lyu Wencheng (1898-1981) and rearranged by Chen Peixun (1922-2006) in 1975.

“All eight young Chinese pianists are award-winners and they studied piano in China and later pursued their studies abroad. Now, they are teaching at music schools in China,” says Wu. “With their performances, audiences will not only get to know these musicians but can also enjoy music pieces with distinctive folk elements written by Chinese composers of different generations.”

According to Xu Jian, the general manager of the Forbidden City Concert Hall, the series of concerts celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CPC was kicked off by conductor Zheng Jian, who led the all-male Beijing Master Choir to perform patriotic and folk songs at the venue on March 7. In the weeks after, audiences enjoyed a diversity of shows, including recitals, choirs and traditional music.

From April 10, Zheng has been touring with the symphony orchestra and singers from the Tianjin Song and Dance Theater. Their gala, titled Dongfang Hong (The East Is Red), is being performed 17 times across the country. The show is based on a classic piece which was performed at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 1964, marking the 15th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China.

Long March Suite, a large-scale symphonic and choral concert, will be held at the Forbidden City Concert Hall under the baton of Zheng on June 25. It was written by Xiao Hua (1916-85) in 1965. Featuring 12 poems by Xiao about the Long March-an epic strategic transfer by the Red Army that took place from 1934 to 1935, the suite has been a classic and popular among Chinese audiences of different ages.

“When we perform those classic songs, the warm feedback of the audiences prove that those songs are timeless and we want to pass them down to the younger generations, who can learn about the country’s history through those songs,” says conductor Zheng.

The Jingju Theater Company of Beijing will perform a concert featuring the company’s star performers, such as Zhang Huifang, Chi Xiaoqiu and Du Zhenjie. Peking Opera, known as jingju in Chinese, combines several art forms, including singing, dancing, martial arts and acrobatics. UNESCO declared it an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2010.

According to Liu Tong, president of the company, this year, the company is staging more than 100 Peking Opera shows across the country. Modern Peking Opera, known as yang ban xi, as Liu says, is an important part of reviving the 200-year-old art form, which was popular among audiences during the 1970s and 1980s. Classic modern Peking Opera works will be staged during a concert at the Forbidden City Concert Hall on May 1, including Raid on the White Tiger Regiment and The Red Lantern, to appeal to nostalgic fans.

 

The symphony orchestra and singers from the Tianjin Song and Dance Theater, along with the Beijing Philharmonic Choir, perform Dongfang Hong, a gala concert, at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing in December. CHINA DAILY

 

 

Conductor Yang Li, who will perform in the anniversary concerts, at a show with a children’s choir in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in January. CHINA DAILY

 

 

Zheng Jian, artistic director of the Tianjin Song and Dance Theater, conducts at the December concert. CHINA DAILY