Tampering with tradition

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-28 18:13:01

Peking Opera performer offers a new approach to an old art form

Wang Peiyu (pictured below) is certainly her own person. The 37-year-old Peking Opera performer has been described in the Chinese media as both a "super girl" and a "rebel."

Typically she grabbed the limelight when she appeared at a recent event in the Sennheiser Shanghai Concert Hall.

Wearing a pair of rimless spectacles, Wang was dressed in a black gown with a neatly wrapped blue scarf and looked like someone from the Shanghai of the 1930s. Although her stylish haircut definitely belonged in the 21st century.

Just as her appearance linked the traditional and the modern, Wang also seeks a bridge between traditional Peking Opera and contemporary culture.

And this is why she was involved in Sennheiser Shanghai Concert Hall's new project Music Infinity which will feature three innovative crossover concerts in March.

Career milestone

"I regard this concert as a milestone in my artistic career as I switch from being an actor to being a producer. I hope my fans can understand," Wang said.

On March 4, Wang will introduce a group of musicians, who all used to perform behind curtains to accompany Peking Opera singers, to take center stage and showcase a new interpretation of popular Peking Opera arias.

Peking Opera has long been seen as an art form that focuses on famous singers but Wang believes the art form is a lot more than that and has many complex layers for audience to appreciate.

The music alone, she said, deserved much more attention than it was receiving at present.

For this project she has chosen several excerpts from Peking Opera productions and worked with musicians to reconstruct the music using different techniques for traditional Chinese instruments.

This has seen her reducing the prominence of the jinghu (a bowed two-stringed instrument), which was a basis for the music in Peking Opera and changing the sequence of the instruments by bringing forward and enhancing the sound of the sanxian (a three-stringed fretless plucked instrument) and the zhongruan (a four-stringed plucked instrument).

"The concert will be an epic of Peking Opera's history and evolvement," Wang said.

"Even though all the instruments and songs we will present in the concert are from our traditions, the way we present them will be totally different. It doesn't matter if the solos or accompanied works were for solo performances, here they will be fitted into conversations with others."

"Perhaps some of my fans won't like the style immediately but I believe that art must satisfy the artist herself first and then the pleasure can expand to other people. Life is short and I want to devote myself to the endless exploration of art," she said.

Different approaches

Also joining the exploration of art are another two combinations: the Shanghai Ballet troupe's artistic director, Xin Lili with the renowned cellist Chen Weiping (both pictured above); and the acclaimed pianist Song Siheng alongside the electronic musician Lou Nanli (aka B6, below).

Music Infinity features three innovative crossover concerts. Photos: Courtesy of Sennheiser Shanghai Concert Hall

On March 18, Song and Lou will present Day & Night, as the two collaborate on an innovative interpretation of Chopin's Preludes.

With atmospheric electronic music and changing video displays onstage, this show aims to weave classical piano music seamlessly into an expressively futuristic landscape of sound.

On March 25, Xin and Chen will present their Music·Shadow, a feast for eyes and ears in which ballet and the cello have complementary roles in modern renditions of classical music.

The collaboration started last year and this year the performance promises a dreamlike atmosphere with towering images of the artists during the show.

"Ballerinas express themselves through movement, while cellists through sound. I believe that when the two meet each other, undeniable chemistry occurs," Xin said.

Date: From March 4 to 25, 7:30 pm

Venue: Sennheiser Shanghai Concert Hall 森海塞尔上海音乐厅

Address: 523 Yan'an Road East 延安东路523号

Tickets: 80 yuan ($12.24) to 380 yuan

Call 400-891-8182 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Theater, Culture

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