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December 20, 2010

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Chopin-in-love multimedia show and Li Yundi in concert

THIS year marks the 200th anniversary of Frédéric Chopin's birth, and this month the curtain will descend with a Christmas Eve multimedia musical about Chopin in love and a concert next Monday by pianist Li Yundi.

A Christmas Eve multimedia musical, "Love on Christmas Eve - Chopin et l'Amour" will focus on the nine-year love affair between Chopin and French writer George Sand.

Pianist Song Siheng will perform at Shanghai Concert Hall as multimedia images of Chopin's life are projected, and actors dramatize scenes from his life with bohemian Sand.

"A great patriotic (Polish) musician writing masterpieces like polonaise is the way people picture Chopin but that's only part of the great composer's life," says director Liu Fangqi.

"He was a multidimensional person, love was part of his life and greatly influenced him and his creations. This aspect of his life is often neglected."

Sand, a baroness, was a feminist and iconoclast who sometimes wore men's clothes in public and smoked a cigar. She rejected traditional values and called for women's equality and freedom. French society was scandalized. Chopin, who was often in poor health, was one of her lovers over the years, but she was the love of his life. Sand was considered France's first significant female writer.

"Most of his great works, such as 'Hero,' were created while he lived with George Sand," says Song. "Sand's passion was injected into the musician's life as well as his works.

"That was the peak for his creativity and that's the focus of our concert."

This is Song's second multimedia concert. He has won numerous awards at international competitions, including first prize in the M. Long-J.Thibaud International Piano Competition in 2004.

His first multimedia piano concert, "Nodame Cantabile," was staged in 2009.

Multimedia concerts may be the future for classical music, according to Song, who said fast-developing visual technology, film, TV, 3-D, light performance are capturing audiences. A piano and a musician alone may not be satisfying for many people today, he says.

Providing visual performances may help some audiences appreciate music, though purists reject the idea.

Music is still the major part of the 100-minute concert; multimedia show and drama represent 20 to 30 minutes. The multimedia and drama provide background for the audiences and include the first encounter between Chopin and Sand.

"We are trying to open the gate wider to attract a larger audience but we are not lowering the threshold," says Song. "Great classical music and excellent performance is still the focus of the concert."

Chopin's 200th anniversary is very special for Li Yundi as this is the 10th anniversary of his triumph in the 14th International Chopin Competition, which launched his professional career.

The solo piano concert "The Complete Chopin" including representative works will be staged next Monday at the Shanghai Grand Theater. It will be Li's final stop on his 2010 Chopin tour.

He will play a number of nocturnes, mazurkas, a piano sonata, Andanta Spianto and Grande Polonaise Brillante Op 22 and Polonaise Op 13.

"Chopin devoted his life to piano playing and composition," says Li. "I think his work is most important for any pianist, since it covers almost all the techniques demanded in piano playing, and covers a wide range of emotions."

Lyrical and elegant style dominates the works, though it also includes classical, romantic, passionate and patriotic elements, he says.

Chopin has been played by many distinguished musicians in the past 200 years and in hundreds of years he will still be played, Li says.

Li's first memory of Chopin was listening to a beautiful melody on a cassette that helped him fall asleep when he was a child. Piano competitions strengthened his ties with Chopin and his works have been a central part of Li's life in the past 10 years, though he plays other composers as well.

? "Love on Christmas Eve - Chopin et l'Amour" - Song Siheng Multimedia Piano Musical

Date: December 24, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Concert Hall, 523 Yan'an Rd E.

Tickets: 60-480 yuan

Tel: 6217-2426, 6217-3055

? "Complete Chopin" by Li Yundi

Date: December 27, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 120-980yuan

Tel: 6217-2426, 6217-3055


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