Classic music festival aims to cheer up the world with orchestra of Wuhan musicians
Published: Oct 11, 2020 05:08 PM

Zhang Liping Photo: Courtesy of the Beijing Music Festival

A new orchestra comprised of Wuhan musicians kicked off the annual Beijing Music Festival on Saturday night to commemorate major events of 2020 and cheer up the world as it continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Dedicated to 2020 orchestral work, completed by composers Zou Ye, Fang Shi and writer Tang Yuesheng in the six months after the coronavirus outbreak, was staged by renowned soprano Zhang Liping, known for her performance in the title role of Madam Butterfly, and baritone He Leiming. 

Although most of the musicians were natives of Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province, the orchestra aimed to dedicate its performance not just to Wuhan, but to the entirety of humanity. 

"At first, it was to focus on Wuhan. But as time went by, we came to a common theme to 'write about humanity,' to show how humans face themselves," Zou recalled, adding that he hoped to present complicated feelings, introspection and hope. 

People in Wuhan and its surrounding areas experienced a 76-day lockdown, which turned out be an effective measure in the battle against the virus. Stories taking place on the front lines of Wuhan against the deadly virus and people's feelings for their homeland inspired these musicians to create the work and perform it on stage. 

Zhang said that she, a Wuhan native, couldn't keep herself from crying when thinking about the lyrics in the work, "a solemn and stirring feeling" coming from her inner heart. 

The Saturday performance also saw the rare usage of recitation during an orchestra concert, which according to Tang, aims to retell the story of an 87-year-old novel coronavirus patient in Wuhan who grabbed public attention because of a photo showing him watching a sunset with his doctor. The photo moved and warmed millions during that special time, causing them to cherish the beauty of a peaceful life. 

Yu Long, chairman of the Beijing Music Festival, says he considers the work a "milestone in the classic world, allowing the outside world to hear China's true voice and share Chinese people's confidence in fighting the coronavirus."  

Yu even compared the work to Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, a representation of the people of Leningrad's brave resistance against German invasion during WWII. 

"During a similar time in which the virus 'invaded' the whole world, the orchestra will allow people to hear a similar encouraging and brave voice," he said.