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December 4, 2011

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Kunqu Opera star takes bold step to revive traditional art

ZHANG Jun, who was honored as a UNESCO Artist for Peace earlier this year, is gearing up for a series of New Year Charity Concerts that fuse traditional Chinese opera singing with modern music.

The concerts to be held from December 28 to 30 at Mercedes-Benz Arena will feature dozens of Kunqu Opera songs and excerpts from classic plays such as the "Peony Pavilion," "The Palace of Eternal Youth" and "The Jade Hairpin."

All the scores have been remixed by noted composer Peng Cheng, who has added New Age, jazz, electronic and rock 'n' roll elements.

Zhang says: "Although the 600-year-old art form has long dominated the Chinese opera stage, it is still emotionally distant with today's young people due to the stereotyped vocals and melodies."

The Kunqu Opera star wants to make the art form more accessible to young people.

"We're trying to make the music resonate more directly with young people," Zhang says. "They will connect to the timeless rhythms and find that the art form is fashionable and not as inaccessible and difficult as it may appear."

The concert will also mark the debut of students from the Shanghai Zhang Jun Kunqu Opera Center. The students have spent the past three months training for the performance.

Over the past years, the 37-year-old Zhang has spared no effort in trying to promote and revive Kunqu Opera, which was inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Zhang is the third Chinese individual or group to receive the UNESCO Artist for Peace title following celebrated film actress Gong Li in 2000 and The China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe in 2007.

All the proceeds of the concert will go to the Shanghai Cultural Development Foundation's Zhang Jun Kunqu Art Fund to foster young Kunqu Opera talents in the country.

Date: December 28-30, 7:30pm

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, 1200 Expo Ave

Tickets: 280-1,980 yuan (US$44-309)

Tel: 962-388, 6267-7199


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