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May 14, 2011

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Russian orchestra stirs emotions through music

THE Russian National Orchestra will help close the curtains on the 2011 Shanghai Spring International Music Festival next Friday.

The orchestra, which is conducted by its founder Mikhail Pletnev, will be in Shanghai next Friday at Shanghai Oriental Art Center and perform two Tchaikovsky masterpieces - "Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor" and "Symphony No. 5 in E Minor." Young Chinese pianist Xie Jingxian will feature in the first piece.

"As we always say, people grow up from the surroundings and cultures around them. Music is the same," says Zhang Guoyong, president of Shanghai Opera House. "The music of a nation is always closely connected with its history, culture, customs and language.

"Tchaikovsky's pieces have been performed by many top orchestras, but I believe the Russian troupe will present the best flavor of Russian melody," he adds.

The Russian National Orchestra is considered one of the best in the world and Pletnev is widely regarded as an excellent conductor, pianist and composer.

The orchestra was founded in 1990 and quickly gained recognition after its debut in Moscow. It toured Europe, Asia and the United States over the years and cooperated with many famous musicians. Their recording of "Peter and the Wolf" won a Grammy Award in 2004, making it the first Russian orchestra to achieve the honor.

Zhang says he has been amazed by the Russian National Orchestra since he was studying in Russia in the 1990s.

"In Russia, students could always get free tickets if the performance was not sold out," Zhang recalls. "But I could never got a free ticket for the Russian National Orchestra as their concerts were always hot. Still, I attended 25 of their shows in the four years I was there. It was terrific."

Zhang says that he had thought about introducing the orchestra to Chinese audiences in 1993, but only now will his dream come true.

Chinese pianist Xie Jingxian, 28, will collaborate with the Russian orchestra in the Shanghai performance. Xie graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music before continuing to study the piano in Germany. She holds a master's degree and PhD in piano from the Munich Music and Theater Academy.

"Tchaikovsky is one of my favorite composers. He is really good at capturing the deep emotions of people with melody," Xie says.

Take "Symphony No. 5 in E Minor" for example. It tells the story about people dealing with fate, as Tchaikovsky wrote in his notes. According to him, it depiects people who initially obey fate completely before coming to doubt it, and then, finally deciding to overcome their miserable fate by fighting it.

Though there will only be several hours for Xie to rehearse with the Russian musicians on May 20, Xie says she is looking forward to the cooperation.

"It will be a great chance for me to study from great musicians," she says. "I'm confident we will present a perfect ending for the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival.

Date: May 20, 7:30pm

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

Tickets: 100-1,500 yuan

Tel: 5169-1234, 400-880-2340


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