The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will return to live concerts on July 20, and details of its annual Music in the Summer Air (MISA) festival program will be announced soon.
Tomorrow, the orchestra will conclude its recent series of live broadcasts of acclaimed past concerts with a 2021 recording of newly commissioned works.
The concert will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. via the orchestra’s WeChat channels on July 1, the anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Party celebrated its centenary last year and the orchestra has commissioned new works from four musicians of different generations – born in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s – to mark the historic event.
It was so conceived, according to the orchestra’s artistic director, Yu Long, because “the 100-year history consists of the persistent efforts of different generations of Chinese people, each with a distinct shared experience of their own, contributing to huge transformations in the country.”
The result, presented for the first time in the concert recorded last year, is not the typical patriotic music characterized by moving melodies led by the sound of horns and the rhythm of drums. It is a reflection of each musician’s unique style and intimate experience with the country’s history.
The concert also includes a 2019 commission, “Classic of Mountains and Seas,” composed by Chinese-American musician Zhou Long. Zhou’s debut opera “Madame White Snake” won him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2011.
“Classic of Mountains and Seas” is inspired by an ancient book of the same title, which may have existed as early as the 4th century BC.
The ancient text is not only a collection of household myths, but also a compilation of ancient mythical geography, deities and mythical animals. He has been a popular source of inspiration for novelists, artists, television, film and game adapters.
But Zhou did not follow any of the stories or deities in the text. Instead, he divided the chapters by directions—north, west, east, south, and center—and drew inspiration from China’s vast landscape, diverse customs, and rich music.
He used different sections of the orchestra to echo folk sounds from different parts of China.