South China Morning Post: Passing the baton: Chinese conductors finally get their chance on the big stage

South China Morning Post (via AFP)
Julien Girault (AFP)

After years of relying on Westerners, symphony orchestras across China are turning to a fresh generation of Chinese musical directors.

  Jing Huan, one of a new generation of Chinese conductors, performing in Beijing (AFP Photo/WANG Zhao)

Jing Huan, one of a new generation of Chinese conductors, performing in Beijing (AFP Photo/WANG Zhao)

Jing Huan twirls her conductor's baton nervously in the wings while the brass and string sections of China's Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra tune their instruments.

Aged 36, Jing is part of a new breed of foreign-trained conductors, as China hopes to gain recognition in the field after winning global fame for its soloists, including piano and string virtuosos...

Last year her orchestra performed on a prestigious Beijing stage as part of a "musical marathon" that saw nine ensembles play one after another to mark the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Music Festival...

China has come a long way however, said Long Yu, 54, artistic director of the Shanghai and Guangzhou symphony orchestras, and founder of the Beijing Music Festival.

"I grew up in Shanghai in the midst of the Cultural Revolution," a period of political turmoil from 1966-1976 during which Western music was banned, the maestro told AFP.

Long secretly learned the piano from his grandfather, a renowned composer, and in the 1980s became one of the first Chinese musicians to study abroad as the Communist government started to open up to the rest of the world.

Read more here and read the original AFP article here.