Shanghai stages concert inspired by Dunhuang murals
Published: Sep 07, 2021 06:17 PM
The concert <em>Flying Apsaras</em> in Shanghai Photo: Courtesy of Dong Fang

The concert Flying Apsaras in Shanghai Photo: Courtesy of Dong Fang

The music from an upcoming musical by musician Li Dun and composer San Bao, Flying Apsaras, made its concert debut in Shanghai on Sunday night. The concert included 14 songs that writer Guan Shan and composer San Bao created for the musical.

Inspired by the cultural treasures of the Dunhuang murals in Northwest China's Gansu Province, the musical tells a story about a guardian who watches over the murals and a scholar who travels over a long distance to Dunhuang.

A religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, Dunhuang has a number of Buddhist grotto sites that house a vast collection of murals depicting religious stories and life scenes and portraits of patrons.

Li, the musical's producer, said he was moved to tears during his first visit to the caves in Dunhuang for these beautiful paintings, saying that he hoped to tell "a story about the charm of Dunhuang to the rest of the world in the form of a musical." 

The Shanghai concert was staged by the performers of the upcoming musical, a live band and a 60-member chorus, who all performed in front of a digital display of Dunhuang murals 

According to Li Dun, the title Flying Apsaras was inspired by the flying apsaras depicted in the Dunhuang murals. These female spirits dance in the sky and look astonishingly beautiful, giving people a dreamlike, and ethereal impression. Painted from the Jin Dynasty (265-420) to the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), the ancient murals have become a symbol of Chinese culture around the world. 

Li said that he and his team are working to develop the musical into a franchise about the flying apsaras.