Palace Museum to release album
Project to allow world ‘to hear’ Forbidden City
Published: Feb 26, 2023 11:36 PM
Photo: Courtesy of the Palace Museum

Photo: Courtesy of the Palace Museum

Beijing's Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is known for its beautiful sights and splendid art that are a feast for the eyes. But have you ever thought about experiencing the history of this 600-year-old World Heritage Site through sound? This interesting concept is about to become a reality thanks to an upcoming special cultural program: Sounds of the Palace Museum.  

Inspired by the architecture and cultural relics at the Palace Museum, a new music album, co-produced by the Palace Museum, the China National Traditional Orchestra (CNTO) and Universal Music China (UMC), will bring the changes of the four seasons at the former imperial palace to audiences. 

The project "carries the responsibility of inheriting and promoting China's traditional culture and extracting and displaying the spiritual character and cultural essence of Chinese civilization," said Du Haijiang, deputy director of the Palace Museum, adding that he sees this as an attempt to produce a national music composition with Chinese aesthetics and style.  

According to the project, CNTO will work with the world's top artists to present the album, which has German musician Christopher Alder as the producer. Universal Music will be responsible for global distribution. Concerts for the album and a world tour are also planned. 

"Through the sense of hearing, the project interprets and introduces the Palace Museum as music, which knows no boundaries," said Zhao Cong, president of the CNTO. "With music as a medium, the album will tell a different story with musical notes and allow the world to hear the Palace Museum."

Zhao said that with the Palace Museum's cultural influence, UMC's international reach, and CNTO's creative and performing strength, The Sounds of the Palace Museum will "undoubtedly attract and bring together a large number of world-class musicians and producers."

In 2020, the Palace Museum and CNTO previously collaborated on the Eternal Happiness of Chinese Festival, a themed audiovisual concert tour that blended Chinese music with traditional festival stories. The project marked the 600th anniversary of the completion of the Forbidden City, the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Palace Museum, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of CNTO. The tour, organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, has received positive reviews.

CNTO is the world's largest traditional music performance ensemble, boasting the largest collection of traditional Chinese instruments. It has engaged in international cultural exchanges across more than 30 countries and regions worldwide.

"China has a vibrant culture that dates back 5,000 years, and the Forbidden City is a world-renowned treasure. As a result, we are proud to be working with the Palace Museum and CNTO to create an unparalleled musical experience that will become part of a world-class cultural and historical heritage," said Adam Granite, executive vice president of Universal Music Group for ­Africa, the Middle East and Asia. "We also plan to invite top-notch musicians to join Zhao and outstanding artists from CNTO in a musical dialogue that inspires and showcases China's rich and profound culture through music to the world."

Aaron Wang, chief financial officer and head of Brand Partnerships for UMG Greater China, stated that as the world's largest music company and a leader in music-based entertainment, UMG has a responsibility to facilitate cultural exchanges between China and the world.

"Through UMC's partnership with the Palace Museum and CNTO, UMG will leverage its global influence and resources to invite influential and outstanding musicians worldwide to deepen their engagement with Chinese national music and create incredible works, bringing Chinese culture to the world," Wang said.