Culture and sports thrive in Qingdao
Updated: 2014-05-15 07:12
By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Center of music, sculpture, movies and sailing hotspot
Music, sculpture, theater, movies and sports are flourishing in the coastal city of Qingdao.
Its well-preserved historic heritage also adds charm to the city's cultural and creative industry.
Sports legend David Beckham visited Qingdao and played some impromptu soccer in March 2013. Xu Chongde / For China Daily
The dance drama from Mo Yan's novel Red Sorghum won China's highest cultural prize last year. Xu Chongde / For China Daily
Following its historical traditions while embracing innovation, Qingdao is a blend of local and international as well as ancient and contemporary.
"Our goal is to develop a civilized city with diverse cultures and booming creative industries to meet the demands of our residents," said Qingdao Party Chief Li Qun.
Dubbed the "island of stringed instruments", Qingdao has strong connection to music.
It has four symphony orchestras and more than 100 choruses along with countless professional and amateur pop bands.
Each year, more than a dozen upscale concerts are held in Qingdao including those by international-claimed musicians. Pianists Noel Benkman from the United States and Christina Brandner from Germany are among the recent well-known names.
Qingdao is also the birthplace of many renowned Chinese musicians including violinists Lyu Siqing and Li Chuanyun.
Already crowned a natural studio for its scenery and diverse architecture, Qingdao is now home to a movie production site and a branch of Beijing Film Academy.
It will be home to the world's largest film studio by 2017.
With an investment of 30 billion yuan (about $5 billion) from property and entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group, the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis will be a mega-industrial park with multiple functions.
The animation industry is also taking off in Qingdao.
Led by Shinan Software and Animation Game Industry Park and Creative 100 Industry Park, Qingdao's creative industry has stepped into the digital age.
In recent years Qingdao has made heavy investment in developing its cultural venues. A new municipal museum was built in the Laoshan district while the city library was expanded twice.
A number of historic music halls and theaters were renovated. The magnificent Qingdao Grand Theater has become a new city landmark and is at the forefront of the city's cultural development.
The city has spawned many award-winning operas.
Last year the Qingdao Song and Dance Troupe turned Red Sorghum, a novel by Nobel Prize Winner Mo Yan, into a dance drama that won a Wenhua Award last September, the highest prize in China.
Although urban development in Qingdao is only about 100 years old, its Mount Lao in the suburbs was one of the birthplaces of Taoism and its written history goes back more than 2,000 years.
Today, the Mount Lao folk stories, Taoist music and the martial arts style of the Northern Praying Mantis are recognized as national intangible cultural heritage.
The colorful folk culture of Qingdao also includes the sea god sacrifice ceremony in most of its outlying fishing villages, various temple fairs, as well as folk dances and operas.
The Yangko dance in Jiaozhou was recognized as national intangible cultural heritage in 2006.
Qingdao is also known for its farmer-painters. A few miles from the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, a quiet village called Dani often surprises visitors - almost everyone in the village can paint. Each year, it exports 30,000 oil paintings abroad and generates revenue of more than 100 million yuan.
Qingdao is one of the earliest Chinese cities to have urban sculpture. It has the nation's first sculpture park, built in 1997.
In 2012, globally renowned sculptor Wu Weishan, vice-chairman of Chinese Artists Association, helped found a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sculpture in the park.
Situated on the coast, the school has become a popular place for sculpture lovers and site of many exhibitions and lectures.
The sculpture park now serves as an important window showing Qingdao's cultural charm to the world.
Fashion and sports
The city is also an emerging center of the fashion industry, home to many domestic brands including Rcolloar.
It has hosted 14 international fashion weeks since 2001, the most recent in April when garment and apparel transactions surpassed 1 million yuan.
Its football teams Jonoon and Hainiu are in the Chinese First League. It is also the hometown of ping-pong world champions Zhang Jike and Chen Meng.
But sailing is more in the spotlight than any other sport in Qingdao. Since the early 2000s, the city has been the host port for many international sailing events including the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta, the Extreme Sailing series, Clipper Round the World Race and Volvo Ocean Race.