A Review ofBeijing Modern Music Festival 2013



 “Wing of the Dream” Opening Concert of Beijing Modern Music Festival 2013

Author: Xu Rui


On May 18, 2013, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra initiated in the Concert Hall of the National Centre for the Performing Arts Wing of the Dream—opening concert of Beijing Music Festival 2013 with the Double Chorus created by American composer Robert Beaserin 1990. Mr. Yongyan Hu conducted the concert.


The first piece of music is the Double Chorus by American composer Robert Beaser in 1990. With complicated and profound musical structure, this work showed qualities of Hollywood’s epic films, fully representing the mainstream style of American culture. Next, the flute concerto Wing of the Dream was then played, which was a work of Ms. Kaija Saariaho, an outstanding representative of Finnish contemporary composers. This beautiful and ethereal work sounded a little loosely structured, just like a long scroll of Chinese landscape painting. But in fact, it was complicated, showing characteristics of multi polyphony. The performance of the flute player Camilla Hoitenga was really fascinating. The third program was Xiaogang Ye’s Song of Sorrow and Gratification (for bass baritone and orchestra), which was composed in 2012 on the basis of seven poems of Li Shutong (Buddhist master Hongyi, 1880-1942). With the bass-baritone, the composer properly represented the sadness of the poems. Starting from serious and profound music of cello and contrabass, the composer applied the atonal composition to make the tonality change ceaselessly, which tallied with the unreal and disoriented status in the poems.


Three compact works were performed in the second half of the concert: Big Beautiful Dark and Scary by Julia Wolfe, artistic director of Bang on a Can; Pierced by David Lang; and Rewriting Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony by Michael Gordon. All these three works were jointly performed by six musicians from Bang on a Can and Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra. Their shining dresses and astonishing hair styles indicated a new wave and individuality of music.


According to my interviews after the concert, audiences have different comments on the works. A famous Chinese musician said the first half of the concert could be summarized as “very excellent”, but the music of the second half was too monotonous. On the contrary, some foreign audiences thought that the music of the first half was serious and traditional while that of the second half was very interesting.


The ancients once said that only music could not cheat. Whether you like or not, these works were all created by composers with their real feelings. Modern music shows strong character through its fashion-forward taste and creation means. Therefore, it is fresh or somewhat unacceptable for most audiences familiar with expressions of classical music. The famous Chinese scholar FeiXiaotong once said “if everyone has his preference while admires others’, all could be live in harmony”. I believe it is a felicitous summary of the comments on the concert.