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A blossoming of music

THE 2009 World Music Shanghai festival, to mark the one-year countdown to Shanghai World Expo, will feature more than a dozen artists from around the world. Their individuality, rhythms and fame all precede them. Nie Xin opens the program.

The May Day holiday will see a blossoming of music as well as flowers in the city. The 2009 World Music Shanghai festival to be held from April 30 to May 5 will feature more than a dozen artists from around the world to mark the one-year countdown to Shanghai World Expo 2010.

The music festival is also part of the 2009 Shanghai Spring International Music Festival that is held from April 28 to May 16.

Eleven world-famous musicians and ensembles will stage five breathtaking shows at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and Century Park in Pudong.

The lowest ticket prices start at 30 yuan (US$4.39). The Shanghai World Expo Coordination Bureau, the Shanghai International Culture Association and the Pudong Culture Bureau are organizing the event.

The three shows set for the Shanghai Oriental Art Center will combine folk and popular music from all over the world. Audiences are able to feel the harmony and difference in culture in all the productions.

In the opening show of the music festival, Chinese performer Sa Dingding, a rising power in the international music scene known for her innovative combination of minority elements in contemporary music, will collaborate with the best-selling world music group, Grammy-winning Deep Forest.

Born to a Mongolian mother a Chinese father, Sa has been described as possessing the "most magical Chinese voice." With her distinctive musical vision, Sa represents an original creative passion affected by ethnic diversity and shaped by a modern China.

When she won the Best Asian Artist award at the 2008 BBC World Music Awards, Sa caught the attention of the world overnight.

In her Shanghai concert, Sa will sing new songs created with Deep Forest and will also perform their hit "Sweet Lullaby."

"'Sweet Lullaby' is one of my favorite Deep Forest songs. But this time it will be interpreted by a Chinese voice," she says.

"I am looking forward to this concert, and it's a fantastic opportunity to work with my good friends Deep Forest again, this time under the theme of the Shanghai Expo, which is very meaningful," Sa says. "I hope it will be an unforgettable experience for the audiences."

Deep Forest says: "We are very excited about performing for a Chinese audience. We will try our best to play all our popular songs and hope that the listeners will enjoy them."

On the Shanghai stage, the Sola Liu and Friends Ensemble will also bring their incredible musical approach to a local audience.

Liu, a composer, unique vocalist and a major contemporary writer, is one of the most acclaimed artists in China. She is an avant-garde composer and vocalist, who turns folk music into rock.

Liu formed her international band in 1997 in New York. Ten years ago, the ensemble delivered ground-breaking performances at the Shanghai Jazz Festival. In 2000, the band debuted in Beijing as the first-ever traditional Chinese "jazz" band.

Over the next 10 years, the band has been enlarged both physically and conceptually. The performers have collaborated with national and international choreographers for dance and music, as well as being involved with Liu's albums and film soundtracks. The band has performed live everywhere from Europe to America.

Liu is confident that her unique approach to music will be accepted by audiences in Shanghai.

"This time a folk music band will take the place of my rock band. It's one of the aspects of my music through which I seek freedom and try to break from the conventional forms," she says. "I hope the audience will feel relaxed while enjoying my music."

Also on the stage at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center will be the London-born Zimbabwean singer Netsayi who embarks on a musical journey in search for her roots; Amrta, a band from Shanghai; and Zakir Hussain, a classical tabla (an Indian drum) virtuoso famed for his consistently brilliant and exciting performances.

At Century Park, five ensembles will present two shows of international music: Samba Batucada from Brazil will bring their carnival music from South America; Yi's Playground will present authentic music from the Huayao Yi minority group of China; Les Ballets African De Guinea will showcase their striking traditional dances from Africa; the Tibetan and Qiang from Aba, an ethnic group in Sichuan Province, will dazzle the stage with the fusion of Tibetan and Qiang minority music.

Also joining the holiday festivities will be the Shrine Synchro System, DJs famous for mixing Afro rhythms with electronic sounds. The Shrine Synchro System, one of the world's foremost DJ units, is a pioneer of the Afro beat and established a legendary club in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria's economic capital.

During the week-long music festival, the organizers will also hold a forum with the Cultural and Education Section of the British Consulate General in Shanghai on May 5 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Experts and artists from both China and the UK will exchange views and experiences of developing music scenes in both countries.

The participants include Tian Qing, director of the Center of Protection of Oral and Non-material Cultural Heritage of China, performer Sola Liu, Professor Rachel Harris from the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University, and Clair Whitaker, the man behind the BBC World Music Awards.

For tickets or further information, call 4008-208-708 or 5171-0077, or go to or

The performance schedule

At the Shanghai Oriental Art Center

Sa Dingding

Date: April 30, 7:30pm

Deep Forest

Date: April 30, 8:15pm


Date: May 4, 7:30pm

Sola Liu & Friends

Date: May 4, 8:15pm


Date: May 5, 7:30pm

Zakir Hussain

Date: May 5, 8:15pm

Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 30-100 yuan

At Century Park

Samba Batucada

Date: May 1, 1:30pm

Yi's Playground

Date: May 1, 2:30pm

Les Ballets African De Guinea

Date: May 1, 3:30pm

Tibetan & Qiang from Aba

Date: May 2, 1:30pm

Les Ballets African de Guinea

Date: May 2, 2:30pm

The Shrine Synchro System

Date: May 2, 3:30pm

Address: 1001 Jinxiu Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 30 yuan


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