LIFE / CULTURE
‘I want to learn more about Chinese music,’ says Australian conductor
Energy and passion
Published: Aug 02, 2022 08:17 PM
Australian conductor Guy Noble leads the opening performance of Jasmine Flower at the East Meets West orchestral concert in Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, on July 30, 2022. Photos: Xinhua  Chinese singer Ya Fen (right) and Australian mezzo soprano Victoria Lambourn perform at the East Meets West concert.

Australian conductor Guy Noble leads the opening performance of Jasmine Flower at the East Meets West orchestral concert in Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, on July 30, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Australian conductor Guy Noble leads the opening performance of Jasmine Flower at the East Meets West orchestral concert in Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, on July 30, 2022. Photos: Xinhua  Chinese singer Ya Fen (right) and Australian mezzo soprano Victoria Lambourn perform at the East Meets West concert.

Chinese singer Ya Fen (right) and Australian mezzo soprano Victoria Lambourn perform at the East Meets West concert. Photo: Xinhua

One of Australia's most versatile conductors, Guy Noble, who conducts the touring concert East Meets West, said he would like to learn more about Chinese music.

"I'm impressed by the history and the beauty of the music and the melodies, the different sorts of scales and harmonies Chinese music has," he told the Xinhua News Agency in a recent interview.

"Even when we put them into a Western form, they're still incredibly beautiful and quite refreshing to the ears of somebody who mainly hears Western music," he said.

The East Meets West concert tour in Australia resumed in 2022 after being postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was hosted in Canberra on Saturday, bringing audiences a repertoire of well-known Chinese and Western pieces such as Jasmine Flower, Carmen, Romeo and Juliet, and the Yellow River Piano Concerto.

Noble said that it was the first time he conducted the Yellow River Piano Concerto. 

"So we're all learning it together," he said.

The conductor loved the music, which he described as "fantastic." "It's beautiful... it has a wonderful energy and a great passion."

The concert in Canberra had been slated for autumn 2021, when Noble last had an interview with Xinhua. On Saturday, Noble said he felt great to finally be doing the concert.

While the concert title East Meets West may seem to emphasize differences, music from China and the West with the same themes were brought together. For instance, the performance featured the famous Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto from China, as well as the Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2, Op. 64ter.

Chinese and Australian soprano singers Ya Fen and Victoria Lambourn performed a duet Hope Betrayed, which was inspired by the classic Chinese novel A Dream of Red Mansions. 

Noble said he loved the duet as it showed completely different singing styles: traditional Chinese opera style and Western opera style. "They're not exactly the same, but they came together," he said.

In an interview prior to the concert, the conductor said he believed the audience could be East Meets West as well.

"I hope that the two audiences come together, joined by music, and that's what this whole thing is about," he said.

"I think by meeting each other and by hearing music that's not normally heard, each sort of culture gets to know a little bit more about each other."

Having been a professional conductor for more than 20 years, Noble called music an international language. He noted that most of the music at the concert is about love, which is also an international language.

"We're much closer than we think," he said.

"The more that we understand about another culture, we are going to feel less alien about it or less concerned about it... The more we know each other, the less we're going to have disagreements."

Noble had worked in Hong Kong, a city he loves. He also spoke highly of some Chinese musicians, such as pianist Lang Lang who he thought has inspired many kids in China to learn music. But he admitted that his knowledge about Chinese culture was limited.

He said that conducting the Canberra concert was "an experience that I've enjoyed," which makes him more interested in discovering the background and history of the music, as well as the stories behind it.

Noble also noted that he is ready to create more things that can involve dance or calligraphy or some of the other aspects of the Chinese culture, and put them together with music. 

He said he would also like to visit other Chinese cities one day, or probably work there. 

"It's obviously such an enormous, amazing place," said Noble.