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NCPA orchestra to hit the road

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-11 09:07

Lyu Jia. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhao's Pipa Concerto No 2 was co-commissioned by the NCPA and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It debuted in 2013 in Sydney, Australia. In 2014, the China NCPA Orchestra premiered it in Beijing.

During the upcoming tour, pipa player Zhang Qiang will join the China NCPA Orchestra to perform the piece.

"The composer is from northern China, and the audience may be able to detect his use of folk songs and other musical elements from the region. In Pipa Concerto No 2, Zhao was also inspired by pingtan, so the piece is a fusion of the musical styles of northern and southern China," says Ren.

Pingtan is a type of folk art from Suzhou, in East China's Jiangsu province, which combines storytelling and balladry in the local dialect. Performers are usually accompanied by traditional stringed instruments, such as the sanxian and pipa, as well as woodwinds.

During the tour, the audience will be treated to two different versions of Chen's Reflet d'un temps disparu. The piece, written in 1995 and premiered in 1998, is based on the well-known ancient Chinese melody Three Variations on the Plum Blossom, which was originally conceived for the guqin, a zitherlike instrument.

Conductor Lyu Jia will lead the China NCPA Orchestra on a five-city tour in March, as it performs works by Anton Bruckner, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, and contemporary Chinese composers. It's the orchestra's first tour outside its Beijing headquarters in three years. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chen's piece, originally written for the cello and orchestra, will be performed by erhu player Ma Xianghua, who first performed the work in 2001 during the Beijing Music Festival. Cellist Li-Wei Qin will round out the duet.

"Two different musical instruments — erhu and cello — allow the piece to sound unique. The audience will also gain a new perspective on the erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument," says Ma.

During the tour, a new piece, titled Yuan Du (From the Vessel of Ancient Souls), will also be staged. Composed by Yao Chen, its global premiere was on Feb 17 at the NCPA.

The new piece is based on veteran Chinese artist Han Meilin's Tian Shu (Book of Heaven) series of calligraphy works, which are inspired by ancient Chinese characters and graphic folk art symbols.

The China NCPA Orchestra was developed to meet the demands of the venue's tight performance schedule, especially for its own operatic productions, and to work with international artists.

Chen Zuohuang, the NCPA's founding music director, served as its first chief conductor.

Lyu took over in 2012, in the orchestra's second season. In 2022, he celebrated his 10th anniversary at its helm.

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