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August 6, 2009

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China's young talent tunes up

LOCAL young promising artists will have more performance opportunities as Shanghai Concert Hall recently signed a cooperation agreement with Harrison Parrott, the British music agent company, to support its "Young Artists Program" which helps promote young Chinese musicians.

HP has more than 100 world famous artists as clients, including Neeme Jarvi and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Under the agreement, HP will provide young musicians recommended by Shanghai Concert Hall with more international exposure.

The "Young Artists Program" was launched by Tang Muhai, Shanghai Concert Hall's current art director last year and has successfully promoted several Chinese young musicians including violinist Huang Mengla and pianist Song Siheng.

This year, pianist Feng Ying will be the first musician to benefit from the program in this performance season ?? HP has invited Feng to perform with the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra in the Queens Concert in the Netherlands and on its China tour in Beijing and Xiamen, Fujian Province.

Many excellent young musicians have fewer opportunities to grace the concert stage. So early in 2005 after Shanghai Concert Hall reopened to the public after its relocation, it determined to do something to provide more platforms for young native musicians.

It first presented a grand series of concerts entitled "Music Cube" in 2007, which granted young musicians the opportunity to hold their own concerts in a 300-seat hall. To date, this series of concerts including "Wednesday Concert," "Thursday Folk" and "Saturday Jazz" has attracted about 100 young musicians to hold more than 60 concerts.

"It's our responsibility to help young musicians to walk onto the stage, get close to audience and begin their fabulous art journey," says Xiao Tiansheng, Party secretary of Shanghai Concert Hall.

After the current art director Tang came into office, he carried out the plan of "Young Artists Program" and granted this program a 1,200-seat hall instead of the original 300-seat one.

Different to the former "Music Cube," this "Young Artists Program" is not only concerts of young musicians, but includes a complete set of measures of publicizing and promoting.

"We'll introduce them not only to the domestic audience, but also to foreign markets," says Xiao, "And for those musicians, all the stuff is free."

Although it's a dream opportunity for almost every young musician, not every one can benefit ?? musicians chosen for the program have to meet at least two requirements: 1. Be a Chinese native; 2. Play at a high level of skill, and preferably have won international awards.

The main way that they gather candidates is just like in any other job market ?? usually young musicians send the Concert Hall their resumes.

Then the Concert Hall will pick them according to the requirements and examine their music skills at a live performance to decide on the final list.

Pianist Lu Haocheng and singer Liu Lian are two of those lucky ones who have been added to the program.

They're lovers in life and held their own romantic concert "Love in A Fallen City" in 2008.

"When I learned that the Concert Hall had such a program, I realized it would be a very good opportunity," says Lu. "As young musicians, who doesn't dream of having a concert of their own? It's something that is in everyone's heart."

But since they are not yet famous, how to open up the market is apparently the biggest difficulty for this program.

"To be honest, it's just in the early stage for the development of classical music in China. Many audiences' main pursuit is not music, like some parents taking their children to concerts for building up an idol in children's minds rather than enjoying music," says Liu.

Although it's just the beginning of the "Young Artists Program," it seems to have achieved pretty good results so far.

"After several concerts, we received many messages and calls from Chinese musicians all over the world," says Xiao. "Many of them want to have a further conversation with us on joining in the program. It's definitely a good start."


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