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The Chinese New Year Concert Conducted by Tan Dun in Brussels
2019/02/02

On 29 January, Mr. Tan Dun, a world-renowned composer and conductor, presented a Chinese New Year concert with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in Flagey Culture Center of Brussels. The concert was hosted by the Chinese Mission to the EU. Nearly 900 people from the EU institutions, diplomatic corps in Brussels and Belgium attended the concert.

Mr. Zhang Ming, Chinese Ambassador to the EU, said in the opening remarks that Mr. Tan Dun is one of the most outstanding Chinese composers that have presented the charm of Chinese culture to the rest of the world by combining it with Western classic music. The increasingly close cultural exchanges between China and Europe speak to the growth of China-Europe relations in a broader range of areas. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the start of a new political cycle of the EU. China-EU relations will embrace greater opportunities through enhanced cooperation.

Mr. Stefano Grassi, Head of Cabinet of HR/VP Federica Mogherini, Mr. Jo Leinen, Chair of Delegation for Relations with the People's Republic of China of the European Parliament, and Mr. Piet Steel, Chairman of the EU-Asia Center also delivered opening remarks. They recalled the widely-told story of Marco Polo, the Italian merchant and explorer who traveled to China in the 13th century, and spoke positively of the long tradition of exchanges between China and Europe. The concert, they said, creates a fusion of Oriental and Western cultures, and will bring people of the two sides closer.

 

Part One of the concert featured Farewell My Love, telling the old Chinese story that King Xiang Yu bid the last farewell to his beloved Yuji before he fought and lost his last battle. King Xiang Yu was represented by the piano, the king of instruments, and the role of Yuji was played by a Peking Opera performer. The perfect interplay between Peking Opera and piano concerto brought a brand new experience to the audience.

Part Two featured 100 Birds Flying towards the Phoenix, an adaptation of the famous Suona piece from China's Henan Province (Suona is a traditional Chinese musical instrument).

In the encore piece Secret of Wind and Birds, Mr. Tan Dun creatively added digital elements, with all the performers on the stage holding up their cell phones to play the sound bites of wind and birds.

Fireworks and Firebird by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, and Spring Festival Overture by Chinese composer Li Huanzhi, were also played during the concert.

At the end of the concert, the audience acclaimed with a long standing ovation. Prof. Philippe Gerard with the Royal Conservatory of Brussels said that the concert was impressive and found the right balance between traditional Chinese culture and Western symphony.

Mr Tan Dun said in an interview before the concert that his inspirations come from his passion for life. As an enquiring and observant person, he tries to put daily elements into music, like cooking with various ingredients.

This concert kicks off the fifth edition of the China Arts Festival in the EU. The festival, held annually since 2015, aims to present Chinese culture to the EU citizens and vice versa, through arts performances, photography, seminars and exhibitions.

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