Echoing Silk Road Update Jul 20 2023

On the evening of July 19, 2023, the enchanting " Echoing Silk Road" Concert of "Dunhuang" Themed Works, orchestrated by a faculty member from the Composition Department of the China Conservatory of Music, came to life. Professor Jin Ye, a distinguished conductor from the Chinese Music Academy's Conducting Department, took the baton to lead this mesmerizing performance. The concert featured a remarkable collaboration with Zhang Qianyuan, the unparalleled double laureate of the "Golden Bell Award" and "Wenhua Award" in the Suona realm, and Li Xintong, an esteemed soprano and resident opera singer at the National Center for the Performing Arts. They shared the stage with the Lanzhou Symphony Orchestra, creating a truly magnificent musical experience. This extraordinary event unfolded at the Lanzhou Concert Hall.

During this concert, seven faculty members from the Composition Department of the China Conservatory of Music presented their distinctive and creatively diverse compositions from various perspectives. Through their symphonic compositions centered around the cultural theme of "Dunhuang," they skillfully fused ancient Dunhuang culture with modern music, creating a splendid "musical Dunhuang" masterpiece that embodies profound cultural heritage. These compositions premiered at the Beijing Concert Hall on April 20th of this year, receiving unanimous acclaim from experts and audiences and garnering valuable feedback. After meticulous refinement by the composers, these works are once again being showcased in Lanzhou, a pivotal city along the Silk Road Economic Belt.

In the three days leading up to the concert, the seven composers from the Composition Department of the China Conservatory of Music arrived in Lanzhou for rehearsals. They collaborated closely with the musicians of the Lanzhou Symphony Orchestra, discussing the finer details of their compositions and seeking input and advice from the conductor. The musicians' meticulous dedication and the conductor's profound and precise musical interpretation deeply impressed each composer, ensuring the concert's flawless presentation.

On the evening of the performance, several distinguished figures from the China Conservatory of Music, including Professor Huang Hu, a member of the Party Committee and Vice President, Professor Kang Xiao, Vice Dean of the Graduate School and Head of the Discipline Construction Office, Professor Gao Ying, Head of the Composition Department, and other faculty members, traveled to Lanzhou. They were joined by local cultural, educational, and performing arts experts, including Wang Dengbo, Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of the Gansu Provincial Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Lu Jinlong, former Vice Chairman of the Gansu Provincial Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Vice General Manager of the Gansu Provincial Performing Arts Group, and Director of the Gansu Provincial Song and Dance Theater, Ma Yuping, Deputy Minister of the Propaganda Department of the Gansu Provincial Party Committee, Feng Kuihai, Second-level Inspector of the Propaganda Department of the Gansu Provincial Party Committee, Chen Qiyin, Chairman of the Gansu Provincial Performing Arts Group, Deng Xiaojuan, member of the Party Committee and Minister of the Propaganda Department of Northwest Normal University, Wang Quanjin, Vice President of Lanzhou University of Technology, Sai Yin, Dean of the Music School at Northwest Minzu University, He Wei, Vice Chairman of the Gansu Musicians Association, and member of the Gansu Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, among others. They all attended the concert.

The concert opened with " Under a Border Fortress," composed by Wen Zhanli, featuring rhythmic drum patterns with a Central Asian flavor, setting the stage for the evening's musical journey. The composer skillfully used the orchestral ensemble's colors and forms to depict scenes from the frontier poetry.

Next was "Mogao Cave 16," composed by Xie Wenhui, inspired by the eponymous caves of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes. The majestic millennium-old cave paintings gradually unfolded within the music, allowing the audience to contemplate the vastness and harmony of the universe.

The first half of the concert reached its climax with " Thousands of Years in One Moment of Eternity," composed by Ruan Kunshen for soprano and orchestra. This grand and profound piece showcased the superb skills and warm tone of soprano Li Xintong. Her performance portrayed the artistic charm of Dunhuang transcending time and space.

The second half of the concert began with " Up in the Desert," composed by Wang Dongxu. This piece emphasized the exploration of cultural exchange and friendship between East and West, underpinned by a rich orchestral palette and sonic tension control.

"Golden Age," composed by Tian Jinglun, constructed a beautiful sonic structure using minimal materials, shaping rich sonic images through sound transformation. It aimed to project the contemporary inclusiveness of China, which embraces diverse cultures, inspired by the beauty of Dunhuang.

"Passacaglia," composed by Han Xintong in the form of Pasaqaliya, depicted the collision and convergence of Western culture across different time and space.

The concert reached its grand finale with "Spring at Yumen Pass," a Suona concerto composed by Hu Tingjiang. Zhang Qianyuan's superb technique and artistic expression on the Suona, combined with the interplay with the orchestra's sections, praised the great achievements of the Hexi Corridor and borderland development, igniting the enthusiasm of the audience.

The Lanzhou Concert Hall was filled to capacity that night, and the Lanzhou audience responded with immense enthusiasm and focus, showing appreciation for the composers and performers' heartfelt dedication. The Lanzhou Symphony Orchestra, with its unique geographical and cultural advantages and its commitment to excellence, flawlessly interpreted the seven compositions that delve into Dunhuang culture. Together with the composers, they presented a splendid feast of Dunhuang music and culture to the audience.

This Lanzhou special concert marks the first collaboration between the China Conservatory of Music and a top-notch local symphony orchestra in creating new compositions. The success of this collaboration holds significant value. On one hand, it revitalizes the local culture of Lanzhou through artistic expressions in music, injecting new vitality into the city's indigenous culture and promoting cultural exchange and cooperation between Lanzhou and the world. On the other hand, it inherits intangible cultural heritage, fully explores and absorbs Silk Road music elements, and skillfully incorporates them into modern music composition, revitalizing traditional culture with fresh vigor.

In 2023, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the "Belt and Road Initiative," the collaboration between the China Conservatory of Music and the Lanzhou Symphony Orchestra resulted in the creation of the "Echoing Silk Road" Concert of "Dunhuang" Themed Works. This event signifies a commitment to upholding Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as a guiding principle, the thorough implementation of the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a dedication to a creative direction that centers around the people, and a concerted effort to preserve and advance the path of traditional Chinese music composition. Beyond being a mere performance, this concert represents a heartfelt exchange between music and the rich culture of the Silk Road.

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