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November 16, 2019

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New concert season, new musical adventures

OPERATIC works from the Baroque era of Handel to the Romantic period of Puccini opened the Hantang International Music Festival’s 2019-20 season this week with a performance by the Paris Opera Academy at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

Six singers provided a melodic tour through the history of opera, with 17 arias spanning works that included Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Bizet.

The festival aims to popularize classical music in all its many forms and to provide a performance platform for the young artists. The new season includes a harp concert tour and a Baroque ensemble concert.

The opening concert was also a tribute to the 350th anniversary of the Paris Opera Academy. Many great composers have dedicated works to this historic institution, founded in 1669 by Louis XIV.

The performers in the opening performance were all participants of the academy’s professional training program, which works with selected artists from around the world for two years. Among the six singers on stage was young tenor Shao Yu, a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, who attended the training program in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s the first time I performed publicly for my hometown audience,” said Shao. “Opera singing is a demanding job. Apart from a fine voice and an ear for tune, one has to acquire great language and communications skills. An Asian student can learn a lot from training with experts at the academy.”

The next major performance of the Hantang International Music Festival will be a tribute to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in a concert featuring Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana. In a musical play on words, the concert is entitled “A Bow to Beethoven.” It will be held at the Shanghai Grand Theater in February.

Fullana will be playing a Guarneri violin — the 1735 Mary Portman — which was once played by the great virtuoso Fritz Kreisler.

In May, the Amarillis Baroque Ensemble of France will perform at the Grand Theater in a concert entitled “Handel and Harmony.” It will feature the composer’s “Trio Sonatas” and two “Suites Imaginaires.”

In August, French harpist Melanie Laurent will perform in a concert entitled “Delights on Summer Nights.” The 23-year-old is the winner of the 11th US International Harp Competition. Her concert tour will also include Beijing and Xi’an.

“The festival has been enthusiastically promoting niche music, including harp music,” said Hu Lingrong, deputy director for overseas development of Hantang Culture. “Every year, we invite winners of the world’s three major international harp competitions to tour China. The purpose is to promote East-West cultural exchanges and the art of fine living.”


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