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Traditional orchestra in tune with youth

By Hu Yongqi in Xiamen, Fujian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-02 08:14

Traditional orchestra in tune with youth

The Xiamen Nanyue Orchestra performs in a local musical style.[Photo/Xinhua]

As one of the country's two official performing troupes, the Xiamen Nanyue Orchestra has performed and trained young people to carry on Nanyin, a music-performance art form based on the local culture in southern Fujian province.

Founded in 1954, the orchestra is now the only official institute in the coastal city to present such a form of music.

The orchestra was received by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1957 when it was invited to perform in Beijing. It has also been invited to perform in many countries, including France, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Nanyin originated in Xiamen's neighboring city of Quanzhou, but the Nanyue Orchestra has its own style of singing and performing, said the orchestra's president, Yang Xueli.

Yang started to learn Nanyin in 1989. "Traditional performing techniques are now being added with our own style to make a more enjoyable presentation of the art," she said.

The orchestra has two nationally recognized inheritors of intangible heritages and another two inheritors that won provincial titles. "These senior performers are treasures for us when it comes to cultural preservation of Nanyin," Yang said.

Yang said her orchestra has trained a number of young people as the art must be passed down to younger generations. The orchestra also stages free performances at schools and communities as a way to pass on the art and enrich their lives, in addition to performances for tourists to Xiamen.

Performer salaries are not high and are subsidized by funds from the city government, she said.

The good news is that a growing number of people have started to appreciate its beautiful rhythm and stage show. They also realized the importance of passing down such an ancient form of art.

Miao Yingli, a 26-year-old tourism guide, has been a fan since childhood, when she had to get permission from her parents to watch the performances.

But now, a growing number of parents around her have sent their kids to learn the art form, she said.

"Nanyin was hard for me as I couldn't understand the language without seeing the music sheet. That shows how important the training is," Miao said. "But as a Xiamen native, I hope more people get the chance to enjoy Nanyin."

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