Performances suit all tastes
Updated: 2013-10-20 08:14
By Rebecca Lo in Macao (China Daily)
Music buffs in the region head to Macao this month for another edition of the annual Macao International Music Festival. For well over two decades, the festival has gained in importance and prestige, as it is an event that attracts a wide range of musical talent in genres ranging from classical to contemporary, and from vocal and instrumental to highly experimental.
"This year, our operating budget for the festival was MOP38 million ($4.75 million)," says Ung Vai-meng, president of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government, at a news conference to launch the festival. "It has been steadily increasing since the year 2000. About 80 percent of the festival is attended by local residents, and the average attendance per show is more than 90 percent."
This year, headliners include the Vienna Boys' Choir, Giuseppe Verdi's Messa da Requiem and Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold, both performed by The Latvian National Opera and musical Miss Saigon.
From Asia, Shanghai Chinese Orchestra and Macao Chinese Orchestra will be performing a variety of classical favorites.
Collaboration is one of this year's themes, with Giuseppe Verdi's Aida performed by the Latvian National Opera in conjunction with the Macao Orchestra, Portugal and Spain's Iberian Jazz All Stars playing alongside the Macao Big Band, Fado performers from Portugal with Cantonese Naamyam and the Macao Orchestra making music with the Korean Chamber Orchestra.
"These collaborations between our artists and ones from abroad emphasize the international cultural exchange of our programming," says Leung Hio-ming, vice-president of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao.
While the larger orchestras will perform in halls such as the Macao Cultural Center, the small, more intimate shows will take place in historic settings such as Mandarin's House Dom Pedro V Theater, Mount Fortress and St. Dominic's Church.
"We hope to add to the existing venues by introducing larger ones in the future," says Ung.
Alongside the performances, there is an extensive outreach program, including talks, workshops, master classes, backstage tours and community activities, such as pop-up flashes performances throughout the city to get people talking.
Warren Mok, artistic consultant for the Macao International Music Festival, believes Miss Saigon and Aida are the two shows not to be missed this year. He also feels that Macao's government is in a rare position to promote the arts in a way that many Asian cities can learn from.
"Macao has a very wealthy government," Mok says. "If it wants to push culture, it can. The government is in a great position to bring in the types of special performers that no amount of money could entice."
Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold is performed by Latvian National Opera. Provided to China Daily
(China Daily 10/20/2013 page15)