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United by music

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-28 09:27

[Photo provided to China Daily]

Chen Guangxian, general manager of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, says the local government of Suzhou had long nursed ambitions of establishing a symphony orchestra.

The city has a rich history with old art forms, such as ping tan, an ancient Chinese form of singing and storytelling that dates back 400 years, and Kunqu Opera, one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera that dates back more than 600 years. The orchestra is also keen to widen its musical and arts repertoire by embracing Western art forms such as classical music and ballet.

"It's not easy to launch a professional symphony orchestra from zero," says Chen, 64, a former head of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

"We asked our friends from all over the world to look for musicians to join the new orchestra."

The five rounds of auditions attracted nearly 500 musicians and were held in Europe, the US, Beijing and Shanghai. From March to November 2016, 60 musicians joined the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra.

"The musicians' playing styles are as diverse because they come from many different places," Chen says. "With their rich experience of working in orchestras they really listen to each other and find common voice, and that means the orchestra's growth has been both rapid and smooth."

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