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Beijing Music Festival 2023

Beijing Music Festival Returns with 24 Days of Music, Opera, and Multimedia

The Beijing Music Festival (BMF) – cancelled and sorely missed last year because of COVID – returns this Friday, September 22, with its combined 25th/26th edition. The 24-day event will once again bring world-class artists and ensembles from all over the world to Beijing. (For English-language information, visit the festival’s Facebook page.)

This year’s theme – Music, Youth, Future, and Attitude – indicates the Festival’s emphasis on youth and the future of classical music, and its goal of encouraging and showcasing young Chinese musicians.

The Beijing Music Festival: One Festival, One City, Many Goals

Maestro Long Yu, the BMF’s founder and Artistic Committee Chairman, said: “The classical music culture of China is at a turning point, and the key to taking that crucial step lies in amplifying the voices of young Chinese musicians on the world stage. The Beijing Music Festival will serve as the starting point for young Chinese musicians to step onto the global stage, making it the focal point of attention for the world and a starting point for the future of China’s music industry.”

But another important aspect of the Beijing Music Festival is its traditional focus on linking China and the rest of the world through the arts. Such connections may be more important than ever in a time of global tension on many fronts.

Charity is another major focus, with charitable concerts and activities such as children’s concerts, masterclasses, open rehearsals, and artist dialogues.

A Plethora of Performances

The programming takes in music from the across the globe, while also highlighting the capital city’s classical music heritage. Under the vision of Artistic Director Shuang Zou, the festival will feature 25 performances spanning opera, chamber music and recitals, premieres of newly commissioned works, and visual symphonic concerts.

Events and participants at the 25th/26th Beijing Music Festival will include:

  • Four orchestral concerts, featuring renowned sheng player Wu Wei, countertenor Liu Shen, pianist Ju Xiaofu, baritone Wang Yunpeng, mezzo-soprano Han Yinpei, among others
  • Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World, performed by the Beijing Music Festival Orchestra, a collaborative ensemble combining the Mahler Foundation Festival Orchestra (comprising young musicians from various European countries) and the New Classical Chamber Orchestra
  • Newly commissioned works showcasing Chinese composers
  • Music by contemporary and 20th-century composers such as Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Shen Yiwen, Li Zhenyan, George Benjamin and Olivier Messiaen
  • The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Asia’s oldest symphony orchestra
  • Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy symphony concert, presenting the composer’s classic film music conducted by the composer
  • Chamber offerings including a piano recital by Stephen Hough (who also conducts a masterclass) and a performance by the Shanghai Quartet, which is marking its 40th anniversary
  • An interactive multimedia “visual symphony” combining installation, performance, visuals, and sound, with Spain’s avant-garde theater troupe La Fura dels Baus and music by Beethoven
  • Opera and musical theater including Hao Weiya’s opera AI’s Variation, which suggests that “the greatest danger posed by the rapid advance of technology is people who believe they control it”; the Chinese premiere of Haydn’s Il Mondo della Luna conducted by Yu Ji and performed by young Chinese vocalists; and a new adaptation of Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle
  • Public welfare events including a “Children’s Concert” by the world-renowned Beijing Philharmonic Choir
  • afternoon tea concerts at the Divine Music Administration of Temple of Heaven
  • and much more

Over its 40 years the Beijing Music Festival has presented many Asian and Chinese premieres of Western music, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Alban Berg’s opera Lulu, as well as premieres and commissions of music by Philip Glass, Tan Dun, Howard Shore, Krzysztof Penderecki and many other composers. Performers over the years have included Pinchas Zukerman, Maxim Vengerov, Mischa Maisky, Kathleen Battle, José Carreras, Isaac Stern, Sarah Chang and Martha Argerich, to name just a few. The BMF has also responded strongly to world events, as when it presented 240 hours of nonstop online programming during the peak of the pandemic in 2020.

The 25th/26th BMF promises to be as enlightening and impressive as ever. It runs from September 22 to October 15, 2023.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to our Music section, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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