Chinese, Spanish musicians present symphonic epic ‘Ode to the Environment’
Published: Sep 30, 2023 04:34 PM
Director Carlus Padrissa (left) and conductor Huang Yi Photo: Courtesy of BMF

Director Carlus Padrissa (left) and conductor Huang Yi Photo: Courtesy of BMF

Beethoven's Symphony No.6, also known as the Pastoral Symphony, is widely acknowledged as one of Beethoven's few unambiguously programmatic works, and the composer subtitled it "Recollections of Country Life." 

Inspired by this timeless music piece, director Carlus Padrissa of La Fura dels Baus in Spain is to present something different and something modern to Beijing's audiences with the epic work Pastoral for the Planet on Saturday night at the Poly Theater, a highlight of this year's Beijing Music Festival.  

The work is a "profound meditation on the relationship between nature and people," Carlus Padrissa told the Global Times in an interview, "exploring the possibility of life without excessive consumption."

Combining creative illustrations and set design, the epic symphony will be staged by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and conductor Huang Yi as the project "turns to the utopian ideal of a global village living off natural resources and distributing them equally."

La Fura dels Baus does not reinterpret the world, but awakens consciousness through a virtual world projected into reality, according to Zou Shuang, the artistic director of Beijing Music Festival.

"What is very special about this concert is that technology is integrated into the symphony. People can use the APP on their mobile phones to look up information and interact with the performances on stage," Padrisa noted. 

"I hope this is an immersive performance where the audience can interact with the stage. In this performance, many of my inspirations come from society and nature, especially nature." 

Audiences can look forward to being immersed in a sea of music while enjoying a fantastic display of visual effects. This will be a comprehensive sensory experience, taking the audience into a world full of imagination and beauty. In the director's opinion, any sound in nature can be called beautiful music. "The sound of wind, rain… are all very beautiful. I hope to show the power of life through these."

The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain. The symphony epic being staged in Beijing represents the vibrant cultural exchanges between the two countries. 

Created in 1979, La Fura dels Baus is known to the world for its immersive theatrical productions that rely on mediums such as video and other image-based media to create interactive stage-sets that force the audience to shift and move as they experience the performance. La Fura produced the opening ceremony for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, which was broadcast and watched live by more than 500 million viewers. The upcoming Beijing concert marks their debut on China's musical stage. 

Soprano Sophie Karthauser and four dancers including Luis Garcia and Quico Torrent will also take part for the visual and music feast. 

"It is very exciting for every musician to be able to participate in this kind of brand-new project. Some of our musicians not only play, but also participate in stage performances. It is a great experience for every participant. A brand-new experience," conductor Huang, who is now also the new artistic director overseeing the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, told the Global Times.

"How can we combine such a new performing method and music, and then put it on the stage to let more people understand this form? It is a special and meaningful thing," Huang said.