“Could a certain distance from Western symphonic thought have contributed to the surprising qualities of the performances I heard in China?” Andrew Mellor reviews performances of Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos 2 and 5 in Shanghai and Guangzhou.
It’s early in the year but there is unseasonal heat as hundreds of earnest young musicians gather to learn from artists of the Silk Road Ensemble... Fostering innovation in China, a country hindered by an educational system that encourages rote learning and discourages asking questions, is not always easy. Some classical musicians have broken through: concert pianist and child prodigy Lang Lang is a celebrity here, commanding sell-out concerts and legions of fans. But Long Yu, the man who has helped spearhead China’s classical music renaissance (he is artistic director and chief conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra and music director of the Shanghai Symphony) wants more.
Ma is in Guangzhou, historically a major terminus of the Silk Road in the Guangdong province of China, acting as the artistic director of Youth Music Culture Guangdong—a program in its first year designed to shake up 80 young musicians with a flurry of chamber-music coachings, Silk Road Ensemble–style workshops, panel discussions, and two final concerts, where participants perform as chamber-music groups and as an orchestra.
After nearly two years of planning, the Youth Music Culture Guangdong (YMCG) will launch in January 2017. Presented by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Culture, YMCG is organized by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (GSO) and the Xinghai Concert Hall. The YMCG’s Artistic Director is none other than internationally renowned artist Yo-Yo Ma, who accepted the invitation by GSO’s Music Director Maestro Long Yu to lead this meaningful and multi-faceted project.