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UBS brings musical wonders to renowned annual concert

By Yang Cheng | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-14 07:45

Global financial institution optimistic on Chinese market

Switzerland-headquartered wealth manager UBS AG aims to continue sponsoring quality performances to enhance the international standing of the annual Beijing Music Festival.

"We are delighted to see that Cameron Carpenter's recently concluded organ performance was a highlight at the 21-day festival, which presented 30 performances to audiences in the Chinese capital," said Eugene Qian, UBS Group China country head and president.

The BMF has been dedicated to optimizing itself and gaining new momentum.

It has not only provided quality cultural experiences, but also offered a benchmark for the sector in its professionalism and trend-setting leadership.

"The annual event has offered unique cultural perspectives and developed as a strong brand. We look forward to next year, which will celebrate the event's 20th anniversary," Qian said.

Over the past 10 years, the high-profile musicians invited to perform at the church concert have helped the event to build its own brand and become a highlight of the annual music festival.

The company has partnered with the music gala for 13 years. This year, UBS sponsored the festival's first organ recital and debut performance by the virtuoso organist, Cameron Carpenter.

At this year's Wangfujing Church Concert, Carpenter played the 'International Touring Organ' - a multifunctional digital organ made to his design by specialist organ-builders Marshall and Ogletree.

Taking place on Oct 25, the recital included works by Bach, Bernstein, Piazzolla and Hisaishi, Carpenter's own arrangements of pieces by Wagner and Tchaikovsky, and an improvisation based on Chinese folk songs.

The US-born composer-performer is widely acknowledged as having revolutionized organ music with his bold repertoire and dynamic performances. "He impressed the audience with his unique, delicate and bespoke organ, as well as his devotion to creating music genius, playing the instrument with both hands and feet," Qian said.

Carpenter is the first concert organist in history to prefer the digital organ to the pipe organ and to champion it as the future of the instrument.

He is greatly enjoying smashing the stereotypes of organists and organ music, and all the while generating unprecedented international acclaim and controversy in his field.

Before the arrival of Carpenter, every year, UBS' Wangfujing Church Concert stole the limelight from the international festival, with talent such as pianist Zhu Xiaomei and the King's College Choir of Cambridge University, to name just a few.

After last year, many audiences doubted that UBS could maintain these standards and continue to bring such impressive musicians and performances to the city, but the company beat their expectations.

"We want to help enrich the profile of the international event, provide more support to boost its global vision and offer more popular concerts for audiences to appreciate," Qian said.

UBS began to sponsor the Wangfujing Church Concert 10 years ago.

Qian still remembers that the BMF's artistic director and renowned musician, Yu Long, directed the first session of the event in 2006, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem, K.626, the first of its kind to open the church concert for Beijing.

"We have witnessed the festival committing and challenging itself to offering top-level music to the world, which consolidates our confidence in partnering with it in the long run," Qian said.

In addition, the company hopes to honor and preserve the traditional cultural heritage building set up in 1884, meaning it cannot increase the audience capacity for the event, he said.

Giving back

UBS is dedicated to its longstanding role in corporate social responsibility, paying back to the needy and less privileged.

"We gave rare opportunities to 35 students from No 13 Middle School in the city's suburban Shunyi district, a boarding school that supports disadvantaged children from rural and migrant backgrounds, to have interactive session with the artist, as the middle-class children from downtown frequently do," Qian said.

In addition, Carpenter hosted an interactive organ-playing workshop for the students.

UBS was delighted to hear students' feedback, as they said they were impressed by the concert and workshop, and will keep on enjoying classical music, tackle any challenges before them and strive to make a difference.

The tradition has lasted for several years.

Every year, the students treasure the opportunities and "their thirst for classical music inspires us to continue", he said.

UBS' commitment to charity programs extends far beyond the above mentioned.

The UBS Optimus Foundation supported 30 projects across China, with a combined donation of 260 million Swiss francs ($268 million) in 2016.

Looking forward

Qian said the company remains upbeat about the Chinese market, despite an economic slowdown.

The bank plans to double its staff in the country by 2020, from its current number of more than 600.

"We hold strong confidence in the country, which is still the powerhouse of global wealth creation, in particular its annual growth volume," he said.

UBS was the first foreign institution to be classified as a qualified foreign institutional investor in China.

In addition, the establishment of UBS Securities in 2007 marked the first time that a foreign bank invested directly in a fully-licensed domestic securities firm in China.


 UBS brings musical wonders to renowned annual concert

At this year's Wangfujing Church Concert, a highlight of the annual Beijing Music Festival, Cameron Carpenter plays his 'International Touring Organ' on Oct 25.Photos Provided To China Daily

 UBS brings musical wonders to renowned annual concert

Cameron Carpenter, born in 1981, is widely acknowledged as having revolutionized organ music.

 UBS brings musical wonders to renowned annual concert

The Wangfujing Church, a cultural heritage site in Beijing, is set up in 1884 and has 300 seats.

(China Daily 11/14/2016 page5)

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