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Concerts celebrate traditional sounds

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-12 14:23
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The National Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments Serial Concerts kicked off in Langfang, Hebei province, on June 6, celebrating traditional music and providing the audience with an aesthetic feast.

At Langfang's Silk Road International Arts Center, the Hebei Chinese Orchestra performed the first concert of the series, titled Unity is Strength, with conductor Wang Fujian taking up the baton.

The event is an amalgamation of two previous concert series hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism — one that featured Chinese folk music troupes, which began in 2013, and another event from 2018 showcasing some of the country's best traditional orchestras.

In contrast to traditional orchestras, which are groups with a standard set of Chinese instruments and require a conductor, folk ensembles are often formed spontaneously by small numbers of musicians, performing with a flexible collection of instruments with regional characteristics.

The Hebei Chinese Orchestra kicks off the National Traditional Musical Instruments Serial Concerts with a concert titled Unity is Strengthin Langfang, Hebei province, on June 6. [Photo by Du Chuan/For China Daily]

The event runs until Tuesday, during which 10 orchestras are each performing a concert, and 32 ensembles are gathering in four concerts, where they present a diverse medley of folk music genres.

According to Huang Xiaoju, deputy director-general of the ministry's art department, this event encompasses art troupes at both the national and regional levels, as well as ensembles consisting of students and teachers, or of folk musicians.

"Traditional orchestras, music academies and folk ensembles are organized to engage in mutual learning, exchange and collaboration, in order to share China's traditional and folk music resources, and promote the long-term development of traditional music," Huang says.

New and innovative works are highlighted in the event, as the featured works by traditional orchestras were all composed after 2018, and the majority of them are original compositions or rearranged adopting creative formats, with the themes ranging from ancient cultural elements and folk customs to contemporary China.

The serial concerts, featuring 10 orchestras and 32 ensembles, run until Tuesday. [Photo by Du Chuan/For China Daily]

The performances presented by folk troupes cover more than 20 traditional music genres around China, including refreshing music from the Yangtze River that adopts stringed and woodwind instruments, and vibrant performances from Shandong province with percussion instruments.

Following each concert, a seminar is held, where experts and scholars are invited to give feedback and advice on the performances and compositions, analyzing ways to enhance traditional music creation, performance techniques, talent cultivation and orchestra development.

Performances at public venues and lectures are also organized to involve more citizens in the event and popularize traditional music.

According to Li Xinjie, deputy director of the Hebei Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, Hebei province has rich musical resources, with 23 national-level intangible cultural heritage projects related to traditional music and 105 provincial-level ones.

"Hebei province now has more than 200 instrument manufacturing companies, accounting for 60 percent of the national market's share in terms of traditional musical instruments," Li says.

In conjunction with the concert series, trade shows are organized to provide traditional instrument manufacturers with a platform to showcase and perform their instruments, boosting sales among retailers, orchestras, folk troupes and music enthusiasts.

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