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The 24th Beijing Music Festival MASTERS AND CELEBRATIONS Announced

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With the theme, "Masters and Celebrations," the 24th BMF commences on October 9 and closes on October 24.

The 24th Beijing Music Festival MASTERS AND CELEBRATIONS Announced

The official press conference of the 24th Beijing Music Festival (BMF) was held today, July 27th, at the Yilian Art Space of the Beijing Xitang Contemporary Art Gallery, to announce the thematic planning, programs, and public education activities of the Festival this year. Attendees included officials of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Long Yu (Chairman of BMF's Artistic Committee), Shuang Zou (BMF's Artistic Director), and Professor Na Mula (Artistic Director of the Youth Music Festival, a new BMF initiative).

With the theme, "Masters and Celebrations," the 24th BMF commences on October 9 and closes on October 24. Over the course of 16 days, the Festival offers the audience 18 series, which includes 20 core concerts encompassing genres such as symphonic music, opera, vocal music, chamber music, percussion music, and symphonic film music. The programs present multi-dimensional dialogues between Chinese and international composers, in addition to performances of masterpieces including Chinese premieres of works in various genres. The Festival pays tribute to the trailblazers and innovators in the long history of classical music, presenting a magnificent, panoramic view of the classical music culture. At the same time, BMF continues with its unique innovation. The "Beijing Music Festival Carnival" debuts at Taikoo Li Sanlitun with over 30 performances and events over two days, including a variety of new elements such as new classical and new Chinese styles, alongside other innovations, in an effort to create a new mode of integration of classical music culture and modern urban life, engendering fresh experiences for seasoned festival participants.


The 24th BMF not only hosts exciting performances, but also presents children's concerts, community concerts, master classes, lectures, and other public events for different audiences throughout October, adhering to its dedication to community outreach, as always.

Commemorating the Masters: a Multi-Dimensional Portrait of Great Composers
In the world of classical music, it has long been customary to program extensive performances of works for the special anniversaries of a specific composer. BMF has celebrated legendary classical music composers in this way including Chopin, Mahler, Verdi, Wagner, Beethoven, and others - familiarizing Chinese audiences with their works in the process.

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Stravinsky's death, the 100th anniversary of Saint-Saëns' death, the 100th anniversary of Piazzolla's birth, the 110th anniversary of Mahler's death, and the 110th anniversary of the Chinese composer Ding Shande's birth. Meanwhile, composers such as Vivaldi, Prokofiev, and Schoenberg will also be celebrated for special anniversaries in 2021. With the theme "Masters and Celebrations," the 24th BMF commemorates these masters and takes a retrospective survey of classic works.

As with the commemoration of masters, the establishment and advancement of the "China Concept" has been one of BMF's missions for the past twenty-three years. This year, the two main themes are linked against a backdrop of conversations. Masterpieces by Chinese composers such as Guo Wenjing, Qigang Chen, Tan Dun, and the forerunner Ding Shande are presented. For instance, there is a musical dialogue between Qigang Chen and the French composer Saint-Saëns in terms of the cultures of China and France. Another interchange between Mahler and Ding Shande sheds light on singing and life in general in the form of Eastern and Western art songs. Tan Dun's works are performed along with those by the master Stravinsky, exhibiting the century-long evolution of the concept of "modernity." The China Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra; conductors Huang Yi, Jing Huan, Zhang Jiemin, Yang Yang, Tan Dun; musicians Vera Tsu, Junqiao Tang, Song Yuanming, Liu Ming, Zhu Lin, Su Chang, Han Yan, and Lu Yiwen participate in the concert series.

In addition to the diverse musical conversations, the Festival also provides an in-depth interpretation of the theme of "Masters and Celebrations" via a multitude of genres. The Chinese premiere of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress continues to broaden the musical horizons of audiences with conductor Zhang Jiemin, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Chorus, and young Chinese vocalists Xiahou Jinxu, Zhou Zhengzhong, Li Jingjing, and Han Yinpei. The week-long series of performances at The Red of Taikoo Li Sanlitun features masterworks by Schoenberg; Stravinsky's adaptation of J.S. Bach's works; The Rite of Spring adapted for two pianos and percussion; and works by Vivaldi and his contemporaries. In addition, the cello section of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, with a line-up of 12 cellists, perform masterpieces by South American composers Piazzolla and Elizondo. Among them, Piazzolla's famed Angel Suite is performed to celebrate the centenary of the composer's birth.

BMF Carnival: Music Embedded in Everyday Life

In 2020, BMF launched a new model of non-stop online and offline performances - music lasting for 240 hours - allowing more audience members to experience the atmosphere of the Festival through both online live streaming and in-person performances. Over the past twenty-three years, the BMF has never ceased innovating, from being the first to introduce a "commission model" to China, to the first proponent of the "China Concept," and to the 240-hour non-stop performance model. BMF, with its tremendous capacity for innovation, continues to be a leading force in the classical music industry. This year, BMF launches a new "Music Carnival" to bring music into the city's fashion landmarks, fusing it into the city's pulse and integrating it as a part of life for young people.

The "Music Carnival" begins at Taikoo Li Sanlitun on October 16 and 17. Starting with a Brazilian-style drum parade at 12:30 each day, the carnival features a variety of performances and interactive activities until late each night. The Music at Noon concerts are moved to Taikoo Li for these two days, where genius percussionist Zhang Fang and the Novus-Classica Camerata - consisting of Generation-Z musicians - will perform classical works with youthful energy. The Chinese pop singer Cheng Fangyuan performs Latin American-style songs and enables the audience to get closer to the music. After the concerts at noon, the carnival resumes for Tea Time concerts, where young musicians from the BMF Children's Orchestra and the Novus-Classica Camerata, as well as soprano Chen Xiaoduo, violinist Lin Ruifeng, and classical guitarist Yang Xuefei, perform classical pieces together. The diversity allows both music lovers and urban hipsters who come to the business district for leisure and shopping to experience the charm of music up close.

For the Carnival, a wide variety of events are divided into different series such as parades, Tea Time Concerts, Animation Shows, New Chinese Style/New Appreciation of Classical Music concerts, Secret Garden concerts, and performances in The Red, so that every carnival participant can instantly enjoy the atmosphere anytime and anywhere. An exquisite stage design also becomes a new check-in place for audiences and tourists. Zheng player Chang Jing - in collaboration with the electronica musician SHAO, the Mongolian Band "TOTEM," Tea Rockers, Shanghai Hinmory Chinese Traditional Chamber Orchestra, classical guitarist Yang Xuefei and clarinetist Wang Tao, as well as harp and Yangqin players Sun Zhiyang and Cao Yun - are all bound to exude a touch of tranquility in the hustle and bustle of the city. Moreover, the Carnival creates new spaces and modes of communication between audiences and musicians through a number of lectures and meet-and-greets on a range of topics in bookstores and public recreational spaces, so that people can experience performing arts in the city. The Red, a venue of rich artistic atmosphere, is home to a performance entitled "Songs of Nature," directed by Shuang Zou, Artistic Director of the Festival. A musical dialogue between human civilization and nature thus unfolds as soprano Li Jingjing and the Shanghai Camerata give a seamless performance on a particularly modern stage.

Over the years, BMF has been constantly exploring changes and innovations in how performances are viewed. At key commercial landmarks in Beijing - with the "Urban Series" to "Immersive Opera," and now to the "Music Carnival" - every change reflects BMF's endeavor to showcase the cutting edge of music culture to audiences with an international perspective, and BMF's persistence in promoting the Festival and expanding its influence.

Music Gathering at The Red: The Unstoppable New Generations
To build a platform to showcase young musicians and to let the world hear the voices of young Chinese musicians is one of the most important missions of both BMF and Maestro Long Yu, founder of the Festival. This year, as usual, BMF offers a broad platform for young musicians, with seven series, which include nine concerts during the week of October 16-23. Most of these performances are also led by young musicians.

The Novus-Classica Camerata was founded in 2020 by the 20-year-old conductor Jin Yu-kuang. At The Red, the ensemble performs works by Schoenberg and Stravinsky including the Chinese premiere of Stravinsky's arrangement of J.S. Bach's Four Preludes and Fugues. Young musicians Fu Yifei, Enrico Calini (both from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra), Zhang Lu, and Li Cong perform works by Debussy, Satie, and Stravinsky. The arrangement of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps for Two Pianos and Percussion, which condenses the gigantic orchestral version into a new version, gives audiences a new perspective on the original work. The Shanghai Camerata also performs a concert of Baroque works, in which young musicians display the sounds of 300 years ago on period instruments, revealing the young musicians' passionate love for Baroque music. Additionally, the 17-year-old percussionist Zhang Fang, winner of the 2020 BBC Young Musician Award, gives a show of percussion music. With multi-faceted programs, these concerts are a perfect occasion to display the broad artistic horizons of Generation Z musicians.

An Upgrade for Community Outreach: Everything Around Music Is about You
In parallel to the wonderful performances and unforgettable memories that have accompanied BMF audiences for the past 23 years, the exploration of, and dedication to, community outreach programs by the Festival has also been fruitful. Since 2019, the Festival has promoted "Music at Noon" concerts in collaboration with Beijing Music Radio, exposing musical arts to modern urban life and office workers, even students, cab drivers, and other diverse groups of listeners. At the 24th BMF, the Music at Noon concerts continue to be held at Beijing's urban landmarks such as the China World Trade Center, CITIC Tower, and Taikoo Li Sanlitun. In a relaxed style as before, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra Brilliant Brass Quintet, vocalist Wang Yun-Peng, young percussionist Zhang Fang, the Novus-Classica Camerata, and singer Cheng Fangyuan take turns to appear on the stage of the Music at Noon concerts and engage in conversations with the host Gu Yue. The repertoire of Music at Noon concerts has become richer and the forms more diverse - passionate young musicians and familiar veteran singers alike perform everything from light-hearted film music to serious classical works. Accessing the Music at Noon concerts in person, by radio, or online is becoming a new habit of life for more listeners.

The Music Carnival at Taikoo Li Sanlitun on October 16 and 17 are also held for community outreach with free admission to the various parades through the south and north districts, as well as performances in each venue. The afternoon talks, meet-and-greets, and workshops are also open to the public for free by reservation.

"Classic for Kids" has become one of BMF's most influential outreach methods since its inception. On October 23, The Adventure of Mimilu, the Wandering Cat, composed for children by the young pianist Song Siheng, is presented at BMF's special Classic for Kids concert. It tells a story in a delightful musical language and reveals the charming art of piano music, opening the door of music and art for more children.

In 2020, during the profound impact of the pandemic, BMF launched a new concept - "The Music Must Go On" with 240 continuous hours of music performances online and in person. The festival organizers delved into broadcasting music online, raised awareness of copyrights in China, allowed music to break the boundaries of time and space in theater, and opened new channels for experiencing music. The "Online Music Festival" continues this year. Over ten concerts will be webcast live, further expanding the influence of the Festival and demonstrating the charm of classical music for a wider audience. In addition, the live online concerts this year are available for on-demand viewing. In cooperation with a number of copyright owners, the BMF Club app offers listeners access to classical masterpieces by Stravinsky, Piazzolla, and Prokofiev, as well as works by Chinese composers such as Ding Shande, Qigang Chen, and Tan Dun. The 16-day festival is condensed into an online "music library" that can be appreciated at any time, creating a new place for audiences to approach classical music, listen to Festival highlights, and to relive the festival at their convenience.

The Youth Music Festival: A New Arrival

As a new initiative of BMF, the first "Youth Music Festival" is now officially launched. It will be held in Beijing from August 16 to 26, 2021. As one of the key youth cultural events in Beijing in 2021, the Youth Music Festival is presented by the BMF Arts Foundation and organized by the Central Conservatory of Music Middle School.

Activities in this festival include lectures, talks, orchestra rehearsals, and showcase concerts. Professor Na Mula - renowned educator, cellist, and principal of the Central Conservatory of Music Middle School - is the artistic director of the Youth Music Festival. Lang Lang, Lü Siqing, Wang Jian, Yang Yang, and distinguished professors of the Central Conservatory of Music have been invited to serve as instructors, offering outstanding young musicians from Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau the opportunity to study with top teachers. A platform for performing arts education for the young is being built to contribute to the development of art and music for young people in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau.

During the 24th BMF, the Youth Music Festival Showcase Concert is held as one of the free public events on October 23, and the newly formed Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Youth Symphony Orchestra is expected to give a compelling performance.


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