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Chinese musicians perform
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Visual Arts Exhibition
The Festival began with the official opening of the visual arts exhibition,
'Moved by the Heart and Spirit', curated by Paul Showalter. This significant
part of the Festival involved eighteen artists from six countries exhibiting
their works (painting, pottery, sculpture, quilts, and art installations)
in three different galleries.
Over one thousand people attended the opening of the exhibition, which
included formal speeches and a colorful ribbon cutting ceremony. Open
for twelve hours each day, it provided a way for Chinese visitors to engage
in significant dialog with the visiting artists.
Performing Arts exchanges took place throughout the festival, in the major
theaters, halls, and clubs across the city. Such was the demand to attend
the performances, that long lines of people could be seen waiting to purchase
tickets. The Opening and Closing Galas included;
Beethoven's 'Choral Fantasy' sung in Chinese. The combined voices
of the Chinese choir and Consort Caritatis, were accompanied by the
Kunming Symphony Orchestra and international soloists Henriette Schellenberg
(soprano), Bruce Kelly (baritone), Liyan Sun (mezzo), and Neil Latchman
(tenor). Canada's Howard Dyck conducted.
A special recognition of IFA's heart for poor and needy children
was incorporated into the program on International Childrens' Day.
A Chinese children's choirsang and sixty Chinese children played the
accordion accompanied by Mario Tacca, world champion accordion player.
A medley of songs from well known musicals, sung by New York Soprano,
Mary Mancini, was greatly appreciated by the Chinese audience. One
newspaper coined the phrase the 'Skylark from Broadway', and wrote
that when she sings "you can see her heart is smiling".
Vince Corozine arranged and conducted the music played by the Kunming
Symphony accompanied by Consort Caritatis
First Nations performers
Acapella's beautiful vocal arrangements
Wellspring Ensemble performs
First Nations peoples were represented by delegates from six North
American tribes (Navajo, Cherokee, Mohawk, Sioux, Lakota, and Wyandotte).
As they performed and sang traditional expressions from their native
culture, the Chinese minority people accepted them as 'family' and
'brothers and sisters'.
The performance of the 'Mennonite Piano Concerto', an Asian premiere,
drew great applause, and was attended by Laurie Davies, wife of the
composer. This popular twentieth century work, with its interweaving
of well loved hymns, was performed by pianist Irmgard Baerg (Mennonite),
conducted by Howard Dyck (Mennonite), and accompanied by the Kunming
The Festival closed with Mary Mancini and Song Yang singing 'Amigos
Para Siempre' (Friends for Life). Accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra
and a mixed hundred voice choir, it was a powerful and fitting expression
of the deep and lasting friendships that had developed with Chinese
leaders and the Chinese people.
'International Nights' consisted of three different programs, held
in the Kunming Civic Center. Each evening, different inter-national
artists joined with Chinese artists in celebrating their unique cultural
expressions, to capacity audiences. The media stated that, Chinese
audiences were 'moved' and 'intoxicated' by the music and beautiful
melodies that 'flowed toward them'.
The Classical Music Program took place in the newly renovated Arts Theater
and the Arts Institute Auditorium. Highlights were 'An Evening of Concerto
Music', 'Music From The Nations', 'Chamber Concerts', and 'Handel's Messiah
and Beethoven's 'Emporer' featuring Thailand's Nat Yontararak on the piano.
The virtuosity of the 'Wellspring Ensemble' from the United Kingdom made
them a much appreciated and central part of this program.
The historic performance of 'Messiah', by an orchestra that had never
played it, to an audience who had never heard it, was surely one of the
main highlights of the Festival. The words of Messiah were translated
into Chinese and 'scrolled' for the audience to read on two electronic
screens during the performance on the tenth anniversary of the Tiananmen
Square incident. Following a rousing ovation, the audience
'cleaned out' all of the compact discs and cassettes in the foyer. The
following day, the Government and Communist Party leaders who attended
the performance, all requested copies!
Actors from 'The Masterpeice'
Drummer sits amid manufactured
The performance of the 'Masterpiece' (an adaptation of 'Toymaker and Son'),
was highly acclaimed. Performed for students each afternoon and for general
audiences in the evening, this theatrical performance garnered enthusiastic
reviews. Many were impacted by the story and said they understood the
'deeper' meaning. One Chinese art critic, who had covered more than ten
thousand theatrical perfor-mances all over China, commented that no other
performance had ever moved him so much.
Cultural Department officials went to see it several times and brought
their friends with them. One wrote a review which was given front page
coverage in the Yunnan Daily newspaper. She spoke of her understanding
of the story and its deep significance. In one passage she commented:
"Masterpiece is a microcosm of our world, symbolized in a world of
toys. They used to lead a happy life together. However, greed eroded their
souls. Evil and greed destroyed their happiness and they crucified goodness
and truth on the cross. Fortunately, human beings were set free by their
longing for the truth which lead them to the resurrection".
Another critic wrote in the Spring City Evening News, "The fence
that hatred and greed builds can only be overcome by forgiveness and love.
This is the theme of the 'Masterpiece'. Numerous audiences were intoxicated
by the glamor of the show and the profound meaning of the story... for
the meaning of the 'Masterpiece' is bigger than it appears". (Learn
more about 'the Masterpeice.')
Two night clubs were the focus of festival activity and both featured
a nightly fare of contemporary music from B. Connected and Martha's Wake.
These musicians attracted a totally different audience. The more intimate
settings, located in the center of city night life, allowed for meaningful
conversations and relationship building within the Chinese night club
scene. B.Connected recorded their third and soon to be released album
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