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MISA festival kicks off in city

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-28 11:00

A concert by the New York Philharmonic (NYP) under the baton of Jaap van Zweden marked the opening of this year's Music In the Summer Air (MISA) festival at Shanghai Symphony Hall on July 1.

Founded by Yu Long, the artistic director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO), MISA is a festival of classical music with a youthful twist. The festival program consists of 24 concerts that took place from July 1 to 16 at the Shanghai Symphony Hall and Urban Music Lawn. This year marks the ninth installment of the festival.

According to Liu Shuyun, a spokesperson with SSO, tickets of the opening concert were sold out five minutes after the box office opened last month, a reflection of the enthusiasm for the NYP.

This is the fourth year the NYP is the orchestra in residence at the MISA festival. The US symphony and the SSO have been collaborating in performances, education and management for almost 10 years.

Dutch conductor van Zweden is the 26th music director for the NYP, and this is his first time collaborating with the orchestra in Shanghai. Because of the stable partnership forged between the NYP and the SSO, coming to Shanghai "felt like a homecoming", said the 57-year-old conductor.

This year, NYP will put up four concerts at MISA as well as an open rehearsal with members of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy, which is a joint project by the NYP, the SSO and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music since 2014. The opening concert program consisted of Leonard Bernstein's Serenade, featuring violinist Renaud Capucon, and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No 5.

Founded in 1842, the NYP is one of the leading orchestras in the United States and is often referred to as the "Big Five". Bernstein, who was the music director of NYP from 1958 to 1969, brought a distinctive American characteristic to the company and eliminated the gap between classical and pop music.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Bernstein's birth, and the orchestra presented a memorial concert on July 6 featuring parts of Bernstein's most celebrated works, such as Candide, West Side Story and On the Town to honor his contributions.

On July 2, the orchestra joined hands with cellist Alisa Weilerstein and presented Variations on a Rococo Theme by Tchaikovsky. The US cellist played the piece during her debut when she was just 13. It has since become her most famous repertoire.

The third concert on July 3 featured Symphony No 5 by Beethoven and Sergei Prokoiev respectively.

During the festival, the Shanghai Symphony Hall had 5,000 katydids exhibited in the lobby. The SSO first introduced these singing grasshoppers to the MISA festival last year, hoping that the sound of these insects would evoke memories of a summer night.

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