A Combination of the Classic and the Modern Bridges the East and the West - “I Sing Beijing” Concert at Lincoln Center, New York Is a Great Success and Raises the Chinese Fever in the USA

[Source]    Hanban [Time]    2013-02-19 10:23:22 

“The concert had such a perfect combination of Chinese music and the Western music. It was beyond my expectation. Though I don’t know the Chinese language, I can clearly understand what the songs express. It was so touching and I was tearing up all the time!” “Singers from different countries sang Chinese songs in Chinese at such a high-profile place for the first time. They presented the U.S. audience with an amazing audio-visual feast of Chinese culture. It is a historic moment…”

On February 16, the grand concert “I Sing Beijing – Hanyu Academy of Vocal Arts” sponsored by Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) and the Asian Performing Arts Council of USA took place at the Lincoln Center, New York, USA. The event was very successful and caused quite a sensation. More than 20 young foreign singers from six countries including the USA, Italy and Canada, etc. vividly performed the excerpts of many Chinese modern operas and many excellent Chinese art songs in Chinese, presenting a fantastic music feast with unique style for the audience.

This was the first concert at the Lincoln Center where young Western opera singers sang famous Chinese music pieces in Chinese. That night, there were no empty seats at the performance venue. The singers from different countries showed the outcomes of their study in China with great enthusiasm, excellent art of singing and sung in idiomatic Chinese. They sang wonderfully, with silver voices and deep feeling, some excerpts from modern Chinese operas that won universal praise, including “The White Haired Girl”, “The Yellow River Cantata”, “I Love You China” and “The Couple Learning Words”, etc. In addition, they also sang the classical Western songs including “Madama Butterfly”, “Rossini Il Viaggio a Reims ” and “Faust”, etc. by integrating Chinese elements into the Western bel canto. In the two-hour performance, there was one high point after another, and the applause was endless. At the end of the performance, the standing ovation made the performers come back onto the stage twice. The applause lasted for 10 minutes in a very lively atmosphere.

The performance combining the classic and the modern and bridging the East and the West was a great success and aroused a strong response from the American audience. American people from different sectors spoke highly of it. The audience not only heard the touching and passionate Chinese song performance given by foreign signers, but also experienced the artistic charm of the excerpts of famous Chinese and foreign operas casting beautiful reflections on each other. “This program is definitely a pioneering work. The concert tonight is a revolutionary performance in the music world,” a celebrity in New York’s opera world sighed. The Chinese and foreign audiences all expressed their excitement with praise like “unique creativity, highest level and extraordinary” etc., and they shared an opinion that “I Sing Beijing” had given an excellent answer to the question how the language and culture of a country should be presented to the world and spread all over the world. The young Western opera singers sang excerpts of modern Chinese operas and excellent Chinese songs at the concert, and created a dialogue and communicated with mainstream American people by means of singing. It has greatly stimulated foreign friends’ enthusiasm for learning Chinese, and successfully created a new mode and channel for Chinese learning and promotion of Chinese culture.

This concert was an important means to show the outcomes of “I Sing Beijing – Hanyu Academy of Vocal Arts”. To further enrich international Chinese teaching and promote Chinese culture in going global, Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) initiated the “I Sing Beijing – Hanyu Academy of Vocal Arts” in 2011, which was aimed at creating a dynamic integration of Chinese learning and opera singing, further stimulating foreign friends’ enthusiasm for learning Chinese and promoting Chinese culture in going global by training foreign vocalists to sing Chinese operas in Chinese. It was a new exploration and attempt by Hanban to enrich international Chinese teaching and expand the transmission mode of Chinese culture. The program was hosted by the Asian Performing Arts Council of USA.

Since its launch, the program has received a great amount of attention and extensive praise from all circles at home and abroad. In 2011 and 2012, more than 40 young foreign singers were recruited respectively in two terms. They received one-month training in China and learned to sing modern Chinese operas in Chinese. In addition, they successfully held their special concert at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, arousing strong response both at home and abroad. The foreign singers have also become tightly bound to China through this program. They have become the envoy of friendship for the cultural exchanges between China and western countries.

So far, Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) has established more than 400 Confucius Institutes and over 500 Confucius Classrooms at primary and secondary schools in 108 countries and regions accounting for 86% of the world’s population. With the joint efforts of China and foreign countries, Confucius Institutes have been an opportunity for people from different countries to learn Chinese and get to know about Chinese culture and become a comprehensive platform for the educational and cultural exchanges between China and other countries. They have made significant contributions to improving the friendship between China and other countries, and are warmly welcomed by people from different countries.