Great Wall of sound
Published: Jul 25, 2011 08:05 AM Updated: Jul 25, 2011 08:51 AM

American musician Peter Buffet is set to perform at Great Wall Music Festival. Photo: C.Taylor Crothers

Xiong Xiaoge has a vision. And it's one he shares with Yogi Bear. Xiong wants everyone to get out of the city, into the fresh air with a picnic basket, for a little chill time. And as he's vice president of IDG Capital Partners, one of the biggest venture capital funds in China, he has the money behind him to make it happen.

Xiong aims to change Beijing's, Yanqing into China's answer to the US' Tanglewood Music Festival after initiating the first Great Wall Tanglewood Forest Music Festival last August. Over 80 singers and bands, ranging from pop to folk, from electro to rock'n'roll, stepped on last year's stage and performed in front of over 40,000 people in the three-day event. It turned out people love it as much as Xiong does.

"We didn't expect a great success at first. But seeing many people, Chinese and foreign expats, with their families loving legendary Chinese rocker Luo Dayou, I knew it was not bad," Xiong told the Global Times.

Xiong, a former student at Boston University, used to spend the weekends at Tanglewood with friends and classmates, even driving three hours to get there. Although he's a big classic music fan, Xiong felt something was missing in Beijing although he enjoyed the music at the concert halls on his return to China.

"It has been 20 years since I returned but I still cherish that memory of happy hours with music, food, fresh air, and good vibes. So when my local partner came to me, saying that we can do something at Yanqing, the idea of moving Tanglewood here suddenly came," he said. Five years ago, "Great Wall Tanglewood Music Valley" idea was born.

Yanqing owns more advantages than the town Tanglewood, where conductor Serge Koussevistzky inaugurated the festival in 1937. The town is only one hour away by bus from the city center, and two hours from coastal city Tianjin.

Originally Xiong had planned that the annual concert would happen every weekend. Xiong plans to bring a Tanglewood Institute to the valley, which will allow students to have a stage before graduation. 

"It is not only a business of making money. We think bigger. Rome was not built in one day, same with Tanglewood. And it will take years of hard work to build our Beijing Forest Music Festival into a renowned one. If everything goes well, we can recruit young music talent next year through our music institute, " he said, adding that making money was not a concern at last year's event.

In his eyes, the performance market in China is not mature. A mature and healthy market could make the wheels run for many years.

"If you look at the big picture, we can make ends meet in three to five years. If our institute can produce young talent who can perform at the stage, we don't need to pay much to stage them. Besides commercial real estates and hotels, which are still under plan, can help boost income," Xiong added.

This second forest music festival in August 6 and 7 will mainly focus on classical music and opera. Beijing Wind Orchestra will raise the curtain by staging the Afternoon Sunshine concert.

On the first night, American musician Peter Buffet will present a concert with Chinese singers and divas like Yao Hong. Three Chinese tenors, Zhang Jianyi, Dingyi and Wei Song are set to perform the second afternoon.

Where: Yanqing County, 35 km away from the Yanqing exit of Badaling Expressway

When: August 6 and 7

Tickets: One-day pass 260 yuan for one, 360 for two, 460 for a family of three

Contact: 400-610-3721