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Music to the ears

Updated: 2013-05-27 14:04
By Shi Yingying ( China Daily)

 Music to the ears

Bamboo flutist Jin Kai from Shanghai Chinese Orchestra plays a solo concert for commuters at People's Square Metro Station in Shanghai. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Audiences no longer have to go to concert halls for performances, if they cannot afford it. They can now enjoy shows at metro stations, gardens and museums. Shi Yingying joins the crowd in Shanghai.

Free concerts in all possible forms imaginable have been a regular feature in the grand hall of the People's Square Metro Station in the heart of Shanghai since the start of the year. Free-style jazz piano solos, chamber music of classical sonatas, traditional Chinese bamboo flutes, you name it.

The noisy background, humming and whistling from curious commuters, instead of interrupting the shows, gives the atmosphere an unconventional sense of interactivity.

"It's the second time I'm watching a metro concert. It has a down-to-earth feel. For Chinese audiences, music, especially classical music, is considered high class. Free concerts like these bring it down to earth," says 21-year-old college student Bian Mengdan, who has never been to any formal performances.

The Hangzhou native, who's studying in Shanghai, says the first time, she was attracted by the jazz version of the popular song You Exist in My Song.

The song was played by American jazz pianist Robert Turner during his metro concert debut in January.

"They (audiences) prefer songs they know, songs they've heard before, no matter what it is - it could be classical, popular or jazz," says Turner, 37, who was invited to the city by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra also suggested that he performed in the metro station.

"I don't want to play a song they don't feel anything about," Turner says, adding he plays more classic jazz onstage compared with his performance in the subway.

"I make that decision (selection of songs) based on the audience. The response I get helps me decide which song to play."

Turner's song list ranges from the jazz standards of Duke Ellington's Satin Doll to Oscar Peterson's Hymn to Freedom, the jazz version of the well-known Hey Jude and the locals' favorite The Moon Speaks for My Heart.


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