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April 15, 2011

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World music fest: Chinese folk diva, electro-tango

WORLD music will fill the air in late May as Shanghai hosts around 14 singers and groups from China and overseas for outdoor and campus concerts.

The 2011 Shanghai World Music Festival will run form May 21 to 25 and feature two days of outdoor concerts. Seven bands will perform on the open stage at Zhongshan Park on May 21-22.

Other performances will be staged on university campuses through May 21.

Gong Linna, a pioneer in "new Chinese art music," will stage her Shanghai debut concert, singing her magical song "Tan Te" ("Disturbed") that spread like wildfire on the Internet last year. She has experimented with musical styles including traditional throat-singing, also known as overtone or chanting.

The theme of the festival is "Heritage" and all performers to some extent combine traditional and modern musical elements, says Lin Jian, creative director of the festival. The events will include discussions of how to make folk music more accessible to urban audiences.

The international lineup includes the Gotan Project, comprised of three French electronic musicians and three tango musicians from Argentina. They broke into the music scene in 1999 with their innovative mix of electro-tango.

"Gotan Project injects new feelings into traditional tango music," says Lin. "It involves not only changes in music but also brand-new presentation with the help of multimedia."

Other artists include the duo Amadou and Mariam, a blind couple from Mali in Africa, who performed the song "Africa" at the World Cup in South Africa last year.

Reem Kelani, Palestinian musician from the UK, spent 30 years collecting Palestinian folk songs and injecting new life into them. The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus will perform spellbinding mystical dance that dates back to the 13th century.

Gong has been popularizing Chinese folk music for the past 10 years; she has studied classical qin (stringed instrument) songs, conducted research on folk music and performed experimental music ranging from classical chamber music to pop.

On May 21 Gong will run a workshop and demonstrate various singing techniques, that involve special use of the nasal cavity, the mouth and the chest cavity, in addition to vocal chords.

"I think we will have fun," she says.

Date: May 21-22, 2pm-10pm

Venue: Zhongshan Park, 780 Changning Rd

Tickets: 280 yuan per person, 400 yuan for a package

Tel: 6272-7910 (English), 5229-9619 (Chinese)


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