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Summer festival set to offer treat to Shanghai music fans

(China Daily) | Jun 13, 2019

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Rock band Hanggai performs with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra at the MISA festival in July 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]


A number of new musicians and music productions will make their China debuts at the upcoming Music in the Summer Air festival in Shanghai, which will take place from July 2 to 15.

The MISA festival is an annual event that has been hosted by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the municipal educational commission since 2010. This year, the festival will consist of 23 concerts at the Shanghai Symphony Hall and the Shanghai Urban Music Lawn, an outdoor music space next to the Shanghai Concert Hall.

Among the acts to feature at the event, Swiss Conductor Charles Dutoit will collaborate with German singer Ute Lemper and the SSO to present the Chinese premiere of The Seven Deadly Sins at the Shanghai Symphony Hall on July 5.

The satirical ballet chante (sung ballet) penned by German composer Kurt Weill in 1933, sometimes referred to as Weimar Germany's swan song, will be performed at the show. And Lemper is believed to be the best interpreter of Weill's composition, says Wang Xiaoting, the program director of SSO.

Also premiering at the festival will be Raymond Yiu's work Xocolatl.

The London-based composer, pianist and conductor is of Chinese descent, and the piece will be presented by the BBC Symphony, under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis on July 7.

A cross-over festival that embraces music of diverse genres, MISA will this year present a world music concert led by Chinese pipa player Wu Man; a mandolin concert by musicians from Israel and an ethnic music concert from Syria, as well as Japanese taiko drumming troupe Kodo's new project Evolution under the artistic direction of master kabuki artist Tamasaburo Bando.

After two performances on the Urban Music Lawn on July 12 and 13 in Shanghai, the Kodo drummers will head on to the Guangzhou Opera House in Guangdong province and the Beijing Tianqiao Arts Center for more shows.

Meanwhile, Yuan-pu Chiao, a Chinese musician based in Taiwan, has adapted Edvard Grieg's composition Peer Gynt, and invited theater actor Wang Yaoqing to narrate in Chinese the 21 different roles in the play by Ibsen, to help audiences enjoy the music.

The concert will be presented by the SSO under the baton of Zhang Jiemin on July 9 and will feature soprano Ma Qian.

Speaking about how the event has evolved over the years, Zhou Ping, the director of the SSO, says: "It seems like only yesterday when we first set up the luxurious, large tent in the parking lot of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

"From the very beginning, we and the municipal educational commission founded MISA in order to engage young people and introduce them to classical music.

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Audience members in Shanghai listen to a concert at a previous MISA event. [Photo by GUO CHANGYAO/FOR CHINA DAILY]


"Bearing this mission in mind, MISA has given 200 performances and welcomed more than 200,000 audience members."

This year MISA will again present concerts by a number of student orchestras, and host young composers' workshops.

"Many young people who participated in or worked at MISA as volunteers have now turned out to be our faithful audience," says Zhou, adding that some have embarked on musical careers, too.

Wu Kaiyuan, a junior student majoring in violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, is a fan of the MISA festival.

In 2011, he was a violinist in a students' orchestra in Shanghai, which had an opportunity to play at MISA under the baton of maestro conductor Dutoit, who came with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Britain.

Speaking about how the festival influenced him, he says: "I was greatly impressed with the maestro's accurate and sensitive interpretation of the music, and how he inspired our musical imagination."

The experience had a great impact on him and encouraged him to take up music as a career. And since then, he has attended a couple of MISA concerts every year when he flies home for his summer vacation from the United States.

The New York Philharmonic will also be performing at the MISA festival for the fifth year in a row. Its music director Jaap van Zweden will join hands with South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho to present the opening concert on July 2.

In 2015, Cho, 25, became the first South Korean to win the International Chopin Piano Competition.

The SSO will play the closing concert under the baton of its music director Yu Long on July 15.

The program consisting of three concertos by Mozart, Prokofiev and Dvorak will be part of preparations for the orchestra's upcoming global tour in celebration of its 140th anniversary.

The tour will take the SSO to the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, and for the first time, the BBC Proms in Britain.

Speaking about the SSO's upcoming program, Zhou says: "We are honored to be part of the most prestigious music festivals in the world representing symphony music from China.

"And we hope to introduce to audiences all over the world the vision of contemporary Chinese musicians, as well as provide a glimpse of ancient Chinese culture and philosophy."

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