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Kunqu Opera join harp quintet to breathe new life into the music

By Chen Nan | | Updated: 2022-07-07 14:54
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A rehearsal for the crossover concert with adapted songs from the classic Kunqu Opera The Peony Pavilion was held at Jinji Lake Concert Hall in Suzhou on July 5, 2022. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A harp quintet and China's ancient Kunqu Opera will meet up in a concert by Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, which will be held on July 9 at Jinji Lake Concert Hall in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

It will be the first crossover performance by actors and actresses of Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater and classical musicians of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. They will perform songs from the classic Kunqu Opera piece, The Peony Pavilion, by Tang Xianzu, a playwright from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

"I listened to Kunqu Opera when I studied in Australia and the harp will play the role of traditional Chinese musical instruments, such as sanxian and pipa, in this crossover performance," says Australian harpist Jessica Fotinos, the principal harpist of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. "It has been a pleasant experience working with Kunqu Opera artists and the story of The Peony Pavilion is very romantic and dreamlike."

It will be the first time for a harp quintet of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra to perform with artists from Kunqu Opera. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"The crossover performance will introduce the 600-year-old Kunqu Opera to more audiences, who may have never watched Kunqu Opera before, especially young audiences," says Liu Yu, a Kunqu Opera actress who will play the leading role of The Peony Pavilion as Du Liniang.

The Peony Pavilion will open the Hua Xia Music Festival of the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. On July 15 and 16, conductor Chen Xieyang will lead the orchestra to perform a concert, featuring music pieces such as The Long March Symphony composed by Ding Shande and Oriental Skyline for piano and orchestra composed by Huang Kairan. Pianist Tan Xiaotang will play with the orchestra. The concert marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

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