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Martin Engstroem continues his music collaboration with China on his latest tour with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. Provided to China Daily
Martin Engstroem first visited China in 1997 as part of the production team for the opera Turandot at the Forbidden City.
During the three weeks in Beijing, he says he encountered "a lot of difficulties cultural differences, language problems and we did not really trust each other", he says of the relations between his team and locals.
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"But, of course, it turned out to be a big success, with Zubin Mehta conducting an international cast and orchestra, and directed by one of Chinese most celebrated directors, Zhang Yimou, making the story of the return to the royal palace that Puccini imagined, happen."
Some 16 years have passed, and Engstroem says in Beijing on Tuesday that there have been dramatic changes. "There are less bicycles and more cars anything is possible" here.
"Turandot was probably the first major collaboration between China and the Western world. But now cultural communications happen every day," says the founder, artistic and executive director of the Verbier Festival.
"We are jealous that you have so many new concert halls, even in the second- and third-tier cities. You have so many young kids learning classical music and you have many great young musicians.
"But what you are lacking is the software, the long-term planning of developing young talents or managing those concert halls."
Engstroem says he is always looking for new, young talent. It was this passion that inspired him to found the Verbier Festival in 1994, which includes an academy, an orchestra and a chamber orchestra.