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Countdown Begins To Fourth Annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong

Countdown Begins To Fourth Annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong

Launched in 2017, the Youth Music Culture Guangdong (YMCG), which is known as "turning a new page for Chinese classical music," will be held for the fourth time in Guangzhou beginning on January 10, 2020. This morning, the 2020 YMCG Organizing Committee held a press conference in the lobby of the Xinghai Concert Hall to begin the 30-day countdown to the event.

Long Yu, YMCG Committee Chairman and Music Director of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra; Chen Qing, head of the YMCG Symphony Orchestra and director of the Organizing Committee and Jing Huan, secretary-general of the YMCG Committee, introduced the preparations and highlights of the musical week to the media. The renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma - YMCG's Artistic Director - and the celebrated conductor Michael Stern - YMCG's Music Director - respectively sent videos, full of anticipation and excitement about coming to YMCG in 30 days.

Tickets for the 2020 YMCG opening and closing concerts were officially launched today (December 11) at the Xinghai Concert Hall Box Office. Additional YMCG events will also be announced at a later date on the Xinghai Concert Hall website.

Revitalizing Guangzhou

As a world-renowned cultural and arts event, YMCG brings global attention to Guangzhou every January. The event is organized by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and Xinghai Concert Hall and for the fourth consecutive year is supported by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and the Information Office of Guangzhou Municipal People's Government. Planned YMCG outreach performances in 2020 will bring bright energy and rejuvenation to the old city.

In the afternoon of January 16th and 17th, YMCG's Artistic Director Yo-Yo Ma will bring young YMCG musicians to six locations in the urban areas of Guangzhou to surprise the citizens with classical music flash mobs. Yo-Yo Ma will perform one of the six Bach unaccompanied suites at each of the six locations, and young YMCG musicians will perform selected movements from the six Brandenburg concertos. Also, participating in Yo-Yo Ma's flash mobs are members from the Guangzhou Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Yo-Yo Ma bringing Bach to cultural landmarks in Guangzhou is one of the biggest surprises of this musical week. When these familiar sights across the city are combined with Bach music, what new charm will be revealed? And when Bach collides with Guangzhou's highly-modernized urban landscape, what kind of fresh nuances will be injected into this animated and vibrant landscape? Perhaps, as Yo-Yo Ma says, "music helps us understand our environment, each other, and ourselves."

At the same time, the above outreach activities will be shared globally. With the power of the Internet and music, this YMCG will undoubtedly bring new highlights to the world together with Guangzhou, where it is held.

Bach Music Throughout YMCG

Born in 1685, John Sebastian Bach is one of the most important musicians in the history of classical music. He is known as the "Father of Modern Western Music." Bach's 335th birthday is the main thread that runs throughout the week of music at the 2020 YMCG.

As the Artistic Director of YMCG, Yo-Yo Ma fulfills his role as a cultural messenger that crosses the cultural barriers of the East and West and penetrates the ancient and modern music traditions. Last year, Yo-Yo Ma explained the philosophical propositions of the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth) and "Heaven and Earth" to young musicians in a master class. Bach, viewed from his perspective, is also an examination of the human spirit. Yo-Yo Ma believes that Bach is a "scientist-musician" with empathy, and his works always remind us of the eternal truth about human nature.

Ma released the album, Six Evolutions-Bach: Cello Suites, in 2018. This is the third time he has completed a recording of these works. In his "Bach Project," he played unaccompanied Bach works in major landmarks in the world, including the Golden Hall in Vienna, Austria; the Sydney Opera House; Acropolis Amphitheatre in Greece; Chicago's Millennium Park; and the border between the United States and Mexico. What does Bach mean to Ma? He said: "Bach's music is accompanied by my growth. For me, this kind of music can help people heal, and it can help people who have lost, whether they have lost loved ones or dignity. It can help them find the true meaning of life. I now play such music around the world, in concert halls or open spaces, where there are no walls; I play for students, the elderly, and young people. Music can indeed bring change. I hope that no matter where you are and no matter where I am, we can help people come together through Bach's music."

This time, in Guangzhou, Yo-Yo Ma will also continue his philosophy, by programming Bach's works in YMCG's opening and closing concerts, and six cultural and tourist landmarks in Guangzhou. The Bach theme will be used in all orchestra rehearsals, chamber music training, the Silk Road Youth Orchestra, the evening music salon, and other music gatherings during YMCG.

Star Faculty and Young Musicians

From the first YMCG held in 2017, 203 young musicians from 12 countries and 27 cities have participated through the third edition so far. Since the announcement of the registration in September 2019, hundreds of young musicians under the age of 35 from four continents have submitted applications. They come from 18 countries including China, the United States, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand, and 38 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Kunming, and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Not only are professional musicians from major domestic symphony orchestras among them, but also musicians from renowned institutions such as Yale University School of Music, Berkeley School of Music, Cincinnati School of Music, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Central Conservatory of Music, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Xinghai Conservatory of Music, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Shenyang Conservatory of Music, and Tianjin Conservatory of Music, among other well-known universities and conservatories in China and abroad.

After careful consideration, 69 young musicians stood out for selection. In addition to including young foreign musicians from the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Uzbekistan, Hungary, Indonesia, and Japan, there are also students from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Tianjin, Suzhou, Xiamen, Kunming, and Nanjing, and young Chinese musicians studying in Singapore, the United States, and Russia.

Li Bingyang, a young violin student who has participated in YMCG for four consecutive years since the first year, is currently studying at the Yale School of Music. Li said: "The past three years are the best memories of my youth. Before, I thought Yo-Yo Ma was a serious person. Now I know that musicians have a childlike heart." Lu Yongqi, the former Principal Oboe of the Guangzhou Youth Symphony Orchestra who is currently studying at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore, was selected for this year. She is very excited to participate in YMCG for the first time: "I am especially grateful for my time at the GSYO, She has helped me experience the joy of playing in an orchestra. Since the first YMCG was held, I have had many friends participate. They all think this is a very innovative project. It is busy and full. All kinds of ideas collide and the teachers and participants are very interesting. This will be a very wonderful journey. I already can't wait!"

On the string faculty, Mike Block returns for the fourth year with YMCG. Mr. Block is a pioneering multi-style cellist, faculty member at the New England Conservatory, and member of the Silkroad Ensemble. Four members of the Brooklyn Rider quartet also lead the string faculty: Colin Jacobsen (violin), Johnny Gandelsman (violin), Nicholas Cords (viola), and Michael Nicolas (cello). Jacobsen has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony, and is the co- founder and co-Artistic Director of the orchestral collective The Knights. Gandelsman has premiered dozens of works by contemporary composers, and in 2018, released a beautiful account of Bach's sonatas and partitas. Cords is a faculty member at New England Conservatory, as well as the co-Artistic Director of Silkroad and a soloist with major orchestras such as The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Nicolas is a former Associate Principal Cello with the Montreal Symphony and also a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). The final string faculty member is the violist Hsin-Yun Huang, an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician and a viola professor at the Juilliard School and the Curtis School of Music.

The wind and brass mentor lineup is also star-studded including Michael Gordon, returning to YMCG from the Kansas City Symphony, where he is Principal Flute; Thomas Hooten, Principal Trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a faculty member at the University of Southern California; oboist James Austin Smith who graduated from the Yale School of Music and was praised by The New York Times as "dazzling;" and Tina Blythe, a popular Harvard education scholar who is returning to YMCG for the fourth time.

Opening and Closing YMCG Concerts Become "Places for Surprises"

Every opening and closing concert of YMCG is highly anticipated by the public. For more than three years, the organizers have presented various ways to allow more people to have close contact with the music. Through worldwide broadcasting, the opening and closing concerts of the 2019 YMCG attracted nearly 900,000 online viewers, and the number of viewers for the previous three editions was as high as 30 million.

The opening concert on January 11 will be performed by Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and Guangzhou Youth Symphony Orchestra under Jing Huan. The program consists of all Bach orchestral works adapted by famous contemporary composers. In this opening concert, Yo-Yo Ma will collaborate with the Guangzhou Youth Symphony Orchestra for the first time, performing three Bach works arranged by the Ton Koopman, who has collaborated with GSO. The closing concert shows the audience the culmination of all the experiences that the mentors and young musicians who participated in YMCG learned from each other in nine days. The performance begins on the evening of January 18 including excerpts from Bach's "Art of Fugue," excerpts from the six Brandenburg concertos, and the third orchestral suite. Yo-Yo Ma and YMCG mentors will also perform solo and ensemble works by Bach. Additionally, more than ten ensembles performing improvisational works bring surprises, which will be announced from the stage.

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