The Festival
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Chinese musicians perform

The Festival

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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
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 Gala’s 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 Symphony.

  • 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'.

Classical Program
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.

'Messiah'
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'


Adrian Snell


Drummer sits amid manufactured mist

Theater
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.

The ‘Masterpiece’
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.')

Night Clubs
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 in China.

 

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© 2007 Colin Harbinson Email Colin: colin4arts@gmail.com