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April 20, 2010

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May Day music celebrates Expo

THE first World Expo concert at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on May 1 will be performed by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by British maestro and early music expert Roger Norrington.

To celebrate the Expo opening, they will perform Haydn's "Symphony No. 1," Prokofiev's "Piano Concerto No 3," Rihm's "Verwandlung 3" and Elgar's "Enigma Variations." Young American pianist Claire Huangci will perform in the concert that begins at 10am.

That night the Philharmonia Orchestra from London will make its Shanghai debut under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy at the center.

May is Expo concert month at the Oriental Art Center and 15 concerts by famous orchestras will be staged.

They include the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Swiss Charles Dutoit, with Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich; the BBC Symphony Orchestra led by Czech conductor Jiri Belohlovek; and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of its new conductor Daniel Harding from England.

Roger Norrington, 76, is known for his insistence on original playing methods, tempo, bowing methods - and ending what he calls the modern overuse of sustained vibrato. He once conducted Beethoven using a score with the original metronome markings - very different from contemporary interpretations.

Since 1998 Norrington has been principal conductor of the Stuttgart RSO, which was founded in 1945, and until 2006 he was principal conductor of the Camerata Salzburg.

In both places he established a "historically aware" style of playing.

Norrington played violin and sang from a young age. He studied English literature at Cambridge University where he was a choral scholar. He published scholarly books, performed as an amateur and returned to study at the Royal College of Music in London. He began his career as a singer and conductor.

His latest crusade is what he calls "pure tone," persuading orchestras to play without the "endless sustained vibrato which has become such a feature of modern performances."

"All my concerts and recordings with the Stuttgart RSO are characterized by a serious attention to historical playing style, which has up to now normally been associated only with period-instrument orchestras," says Norrington.

Stuttgart RSO, under his baton, has won a devoted following, and its series of recordings on the label SWRmusic (in cooperation with H°?nssler Classics) represent an authentic sound.

"We try to use the articulation and bowing of each period, not out of antiquarianism, but because it suits the music. We adopt the important note lengths and the expected phrasing patterns of the time. We pay particular attention to tempo, until recently the most abused element in classical interpretations," he says.

Norrington's new Beethoven cycle with the Stuttgart RSO has won praise; his other recordings of many classics all have the same pure tone, expressive phrasing and transparent orchestral textures.

"Our concerts and recordings give you the opportunity to hear how a modern symphony orchestra can reconnect with its roots and embrace the traditions of the past," says Norrington.

The Oriental Art Center, a major Expo performance venue, will hold almost 100 concerts during the six-month Expo through the end of October.

Stuttgart RSO

Date: May 1, 10am

Philharmonia Orchestra, London

Date: May 1, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 15-200 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234


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