Conducting himself with great passion

By Chen Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-24 07:34:04

Conducting himself with great passion

Conductor Lu Shao-chia rehearses with the China Philharmonic for his recent performance of Mahler's Symphony No 9 in Beijing.[Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Taiwan conductor Lu Shao-chia believes that music is a universal language that can connect people all over the world. The Berlin-based maestro tells Chen Nan why he loves working with mainland musicians.

Conducting himself with great passion

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Conducting himself with great passion

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Mahler wrote Symphony No 9 as a personal farewell to the world. A century later, Taiwan conductor Lu Shao-chia has paid tribute to the great composer by interpreting his masterpiece with an Oriental perspective.

"I have always believed that classical music is a mutual language between all people. It doesn't belong just to the West," Lu, 53, says. "So when I lead an orchestra to perform a Western classical work, I use the expression of the East, which is introverted yet powerful."

The established conductor cooperated with the China Philharmonic for the first time to present Mahler's Symphony No 9 on Jan 18 at Beijing Concert Hall. Unlike other concerts, which usually feature several pieces of music, the concert staged only the symphony.

"Symphony No 9 is complete and doesn't have room for other works," Lu says. "I enjoy the feeling of purity and weight."

As a conductor who adores Mahler and has led international symphony orchestras in performing his work many times, Lu is confident in saying that he understands the composer and his work. At a rehearsal on a gloomy winter afternoon in Beijing, he kept repeating: "This is not what Mahler means."

"The world of Mahler is like a kaleidoscope. No one understood his music until 100 years after his death," Lu told the musicians of the China Philharmonic. "From the beginning, his music was about death, religion and hope."

In contrast to his passionate image onstage, Lu is a man of few words away from the spotlight. Lu calls his cooperation with the China Philharmonic a meeting of champions, and musicians from the China Philharmonic say they find Lu's conducting inspiring.

The first time Lu cooperated with an orchestra from the mainland was in 1993 when he led the Central Symphony Orchestra (it was renamed the China National Symphony Orchestra in 1996). In 2008, he came to Beijing to unveil the National Center for the Performing Arts in a performance with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. In 2012, he brought the Taiwan Philharmonic to NCPA.

"Orchestras from the mainland develop very quickly. They are different from orchestras from Taiwan due to different personalities and cultural backgrounds," Lu says. "I am very interested to learn more and to cooperate with orchestras from the mainland."

Lu has won three major conductor competitions: Besancon, Trento and Amsterdam. However, the low-profile conductor is loath to boast about his achievements.

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