The Shanghai Chinese Orchestra staged a successful musical show “Oriental Elegance” at Mexico’s National Center for the Arts (Cenart) over the weekend.
The renowned musical ensemble, featuring classic Chinese instruments, offered a concert of mostly traditional music at Cenart’s main Blas Galindo Theater, in the lead up to its participation later this week in the International Cervantino Festival, Mexico’s premiere annual cultural celebration.
Orchestra members specialized in instruments such as erhu, also known as the Chinese violin; bamboo flute; sheng, a wind instrument consisting of multiple reed pipes; ruan or moon guitar; and zheng or zither.
Internationally renowned erhu virtuoso and composer Ma Xiaohui, who has visited Mexico on multiple occasions, served as master of ceremonies, introducing the audience to each traditional instrument by inviting musicians to perform a brief solo and explaining a little bit about the instrument’s history.
Music is a bridge that transcends language and cultural barriers to convey thoughts and emotions between different peoples, said Ma.
Sunday’s program began with “A Moonlit Night on the Spring River,” which is considered an iconic piece of classical Chinese music.
Bamboo flute player Zhao Yunmeng interpreted “Journey to Suzhou,” a classical piece that reflects the laid-back pace of the region’s coastal communities in its soft and poetic tones. Zhao also played “Joyful Reunion,” a strongly rhythmic tune composed in the north.
An audience favorite was “Silk Road and Camel Bell,” which evokes the exotic glamour of the ancient trade route that connected East Asia with Europe for centuries.
Ma’s erhu solo “Ten Thousand Steeds Galloping,” inspired by the vast Mongolian prairie, also elicited nonstop applause.
“An extraordinary level of (musical) interpretation” and “very elegant,” audience member Alejandro Quiroz said of the concert.
A chemical engineer, Quiroz, 25, said it was the first time she ever heard classical Chinese music.
“Now I have a better idea of the instruments, their sounds and the harmony, which evoke feelings,” she said.
Chinese ambassador to Mexico Qiu Xiaoqi congratulated the musicians on putting on such an unforgettable show.
“Today’s presentation was a rousing success. The show was really well received by the audience, because we’re talking about a top-tier ensemble that comes from Shanghai, which in addition to being one of China’s economically important cities, is also very cultural,” Qiu told Xinhua.
The orchestra is slated to stage the program — previously presented in Germany, Belgium and Thailand, among other countries, to much acclaim — in Mexico’s second-largest city Guadalajara, as well as in central Guanajuato on Oct. 18 as part of the Cervantino Festival.
“Culture is fundamental to reciprocal knowledge between our two peoples and two societies,” said the ambassador, adding China has plans to step up “the ties of cooperation between China and Mexico, and I’m very optimistic.”
In the coming months, “we are going to have many cultural activities and I hope that it can provide many opportunities for Mexican audiences to learn more about China,” said Qiu. Enditem