Intl. music festival opens with cheers


Zhang Qian

With attention and blessings from hundreds of musicians, audience members, government officials from China and UNESCO, the grand opening concert of the first Belt & Road Shenzhen International Music Festival took place at Shenzhen Concert Hall on Saturday night, bringing not only top-level performances, but also wishes for diverse cultures to converge and innovate.

A brief opening ceremony was held before the first symphony “Dvorak: Carnival Overture” with Li Xiaogan, head of the city’s publicity department, reading a congratulatory letter from Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

“The theme of this music festival — Connect China and the World — proposed by the Shenzhen Municipal Government and the Chinese Musician Association, is specifically to communicate between China and the world. It is of great significance to have art exchanges, mutual learning and more people connected among Belt and Road countries,” read the congratulatory letter.

Liu said in the letter that the Belt and Road Initiative was an important strategy put forward by President Xi Jinping and that “the initiative is not a solo by China, but a symphony performed by many countries.”

“I hope this music festival is a complete success, and establishes itself as an international platform to pass on the Silk Road’s cultural heritage, make art more popular, nurture art talents and promote great artworks,” read the letter.

It is the first time that a Belt and Road-themed music festival has been held as a prelude to the Belt and Road International Cooperation Summit Forum taking place in May this year. The music festival is considered a warm-up for the major political event, said Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for culture.

The 90-minute opening concert featured 10 performances by musicians from China and 17 Belt and Road countries and regions. A special orchestra consisting of local players from Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and musicians from other countries was formed for the concert, which added extra innovative features to event.

A French horn player from Thailand, named Nantawat, said that joining the special orchestra enabled him to make a lot of friends from whom he was able to learn so much and gain valuable experiences.

The suona solo performed by Zhang Qianyuan won rounds of cheers and applause from the audience. The musician soloed a traditional Chinese masterpiece known as “Hundreds Birds Worshiping the Phoenix” composed by Ren Tongxiang. Suona is a kind of traditional Chinese musical instrument.

Kaveh, an Iranian violinist, said that the suona performance was very interesting, and that the arrangement of the songs performed Saturday night was delicate and special.

The duet by Canadian soprano Katherine Whyte and Chinese baritone Yang Yang pushed the concert to its climax with a segment of the famous Chinese opera, the White-Haired Girl Aria “Tying the Red Ribbon.”

The opening concert ended with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral” Finale “Ode to Joy” at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The three-week festival will feature a total of 16 high-level concerts in Shenzhen through April 16. Over 700 musicians and 14 troupes from nearly 30 countries and regions around the world have been invited to perform at the international music festival.