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Qingdao riding wave of success after inaugural music festival

By CHENG YUEZHU | (China Daily ) | 2019-08-12

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The opening concert of the 2019 Tsingtao International Music Festival held at the Qingdao Grand Theater on Aug 2. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Musical notes literally flew across the night sky of Qingdao, Shandong province, thanks to 200 drones putting on a light show using the precision of high technology, while a traditional folk ensemble appeared at the central square in Jimo district to perform classic songs.

These events were a sneak peek at what locals would experience during the inaugural, ocean-themed, Tsingtao International Music Festival-set to become an annual event that will represent the coastal city in its entirety, through both its modern vitality and rich history.

The festival kicked off on Aug 2 and concluded on Sunday after presenting 10 concerts, staged in not only opulent opera houses, such as the Bluthner Grand Theater, but even inside the factory of FAW Jiefang Automotive.

Lyu Siqing, renowned Chinese violinist, says although he has performed many times in Qingdao, this festival holds special meaning for him personally, as his family is originally from Jimo, an older part of the the city where most of the concerts took place.

"I have come back to Jimo quite a few times in the past couple of years and observed its development. The ancient city is being restored and a music town has been constructed. Its music industry is becoming more prominent," Lyu says.

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The concert showcases Lyuju Opera, a traditional folk art form unique to Shandong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

At the opening concert in the Qingdao Grand Theater, he performed the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra accompanied by the Tsingtao International Music Festival Orchestra, formed specially for the event and comprising 95 musicians from both home and abroad.

"I was not informed beforehand, so when I first came to the rehearsal, I was surprised to find so many familiar faces-my previous classmates, alumni and foreign musicians," Lyu says.

"The formation of a festival orchestra is of course very fascinating. It's quite beneficial to create a platform where musicians from all over the world can communicate, create music and enhance understanding."

With classical symphony, contemporary Chinese compositions and arias from both Western opera and Lyuju Opera, the opening concert appealed to the diverse tastes of the more than 1,000 audience members.

Ye Xiaogang, Chinese composer and artistic director of the festival, brought his original composition Starlight, a concerto for piano, chorus and orchestra, which is probably best known for its performance at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ye has also created, alongside other Chinese composers, a symphony composition entitled The Light of Qingdao, portraying the city's rich history and coastal culture.

He says by incorporating Chinese and Western music forms, the concert was not only intended to satisfy music enthusiasts with classical pieces from around the world, but to promote the development of Qingdao's music industry.

The concert showcased Shandong's regional Lyuju Opera in an innovative way, by presenting this traditional folk art form with orchestral accompaniment.

"Thanks to the festival, Lyuju Opera can step onto this international platform, and it is great to be able to work alongside all these excellent musicians," Song Chao, a Lyuju performer, says.

According to Zhang Jun, secretary of the Jimo district committee of the Communist Party of China, the festival has proved effective in tapping into the city's music tradition and assisting the city's integration of culture and tourism.

"After our initial preparation and promotion, many musicians and major music companies have contacted us to cooperate with, and participate in, our music events. Music is indispensable in the development of Qingdao as a modern and vigorous city," Zhang says.

chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn