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Epic Long March concert gets Xingguo residency

By CHEN NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-24 08:33

The creative team of the Long March Suite, a large-scale symphonic and choral concert to be staged in Xingguo county, Jiangxi province, as a regular event, launches the new show in Beijing on Monday.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The Long March Suite, a large-scale symphonic and choral concert, will be staged as a resident performance in Xingguo county, Jiangxi province. A new theater, Xingguo Long March Suite Grand Theater, has been built to stage the concert, which will be premiered on Thursday.

Written by Xiao Hua (1916-85) in 1965, the suite features 10 poems by Xiao about the Long March — an epic strategic retreat by the Red Army that took place from 1934 to 1936. Since its premiere in 1965, the suite has been a classic and remains popular among Chinese audiences of different ages.

"When the suite premiered in 1965, it was to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the end of the Long March. Many Chinese people grew up listening to those poems and songs. It took us over a year to prepare and arrange the concert, which will be staged as a regular show," says Jia Ding, the concert's director.

Jiangxi is known for its revolutionary bases and is a popular destination among tourists. Jia Ding adds that the regular performance of the Long March Suite will become a stop for tourists to better understand the history of the Communist Party of China.

Writer of the Long March Suite, Xiao, was born in Xingguo and became a member of the CPC as a teenager. According to Xiao Xia, Xiao Hua's daughter, her father wrote 12 poems while receiving medical treatment for a severe illness in hospital in 1965. Ten of them have been adapted into songs, composed by four veteran Chinese songwriters.

"With 680 words, my father expressed his love and respect for the Red Army soldiers who trekked over mountains and crossed rivers, with little food and evading the enemy, during the Long March from southeastern to northwestern China," says Xiao Xia, who is a member of the creative team behind the suite's upcoming resident performances in Xingguo.

"My father endured the Long March, which he described as historic and a very important part of his life. In his poems, he portrayed the heroism attributed to the Long March, which has inspired many Chinese people," she says.

Xiao Xia visited the Xingguo Revolutionary Martyrs Memorial, and was impressed by the 8-meter-high wall, comprising more than 700 pieces of black marble. On the walls of the monuments are inscribed the names of 23,179 revolutionary martyrs.

Since survivors couldn't remember or didn't even know the names of many of their deceased comrades, the actual number of martyrs from Xingguo is far beyond the number of names on the wall, she adds.

"Many soldiers died at a very young age. We particularly hope that today's young people can watch the show and learn the stories of those revolutionary martyrs, who were of a similar age as them," Xiao Xia says.

"We have recruited choral singers from Xingguo to perform in the show. The Long March Suite is so popular in Xingguo that many local people can sing the songs and recite the poems," Jia Ding says.

Some of the singers, who performed during the premiere in 1965, will join in the concert on Thursday. The China Film Symphony Orchestra has recorded the music, which will accompany the regular performances of the Long March Suite in Xingguo.

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