Charm of ancient Chinese poems inspires new concert
Published: Apr 19, 2021 11:18 PM
Photo: Courtesy of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra

Photo: Courtesy of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra

Photo: Courtesy of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra

Photo: Courtesy of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra

As a part of China’s Orchestra Festival 2021, the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra held a concert based on Chinese poems of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) accompanied by Western and traditional Chinese musical instruments on Saturday in Beijing.

Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, was the capital of the Tang Dynasty, and the concert held at the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing was a kind of communication crossing hundreds of years between an ancient capital and the modern one.

Through seven movements and 12 poems from different periods of the dynasty, the concert led audiences to experience a journey through time, from the renewal of everything in the early Tang Dynasty to the vigorous momentum at the height of the dynasty, the competition of various thoughts in the middle dynasty to the decline of the late Tang Dynasty.

In addition to Western instruments such as violins and pianos, various traditional Chinese instruments such as the seven-stringed guqin were also played during the concert, which accompanied Yang Yi’s recital of a well-known Tang poem called Chunjiang Huayueye (A Moonlit Night On The Spring River).

The concert invited several artists from other fields including opera performers and actors to perform the poems.

Chinese actor Guo Da recited one poem by Li Bai, one of the most famous poets of the Tang Dynasty. “Do you not see the Yellow River coming from the sky, rushing into the sea and never coming back?” The poem has always been considered as having great sense of momentum and the actor’s performance highlighted this.

Two Peking Opera performers stunned audiences when they came on stage. They stood in front of musicians playing the Western instruments to perform scenes of fighting on the battlefield and guarding the country.

Pu Cunxin, chairman of the China Theatre Association, was also invited to perform at the concert. He recited one brilliant work by Bai Juyi, another Tang Dynasty poem called Song of the Lute Player, getting applause from the audience because of his natural interaction with musicians and the conductor during his performance.

“I learned all these poems of the Tang Dynasty when I was a student and did not understand why the teachers said they are beautiful and stunning. Today’s concert made me really understand the charm of Chinese ancient poems, which will never be defeated by pop culture,” one audience member surnamed Gao told the Global Times.

Sun Chang, the composer of the concert, said that he wanted to bring the poets of the Tang Dynasty to today. “Helping to pass on traditional culture with an original symphony is the greatest homage to these works and poets,” Sun said.

Other places in China such as Ningbo in East China’s Zhejiang Province and South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have also launched programs for the Orchestra Festival.