‘Persevering through Adversity’: On 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s Birth, Virtual Festival featuring American and Chinese Musicians to Showcase How His Legacy is More Relevant than Ever

Bard College Conservatory’s U.S.-China Music Institute to Present “China Now Music Festival 2020: China and Beethoven” from Dec 11-18, Free and Open to the Public

Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, UNITED STATES


ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y., Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- This month, the U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music is convening leading Chinese and American musicians, performing artists, and other cultural institutions to present "China Now Music Festival 2020: China and Beethoven”, a week-long worldwide virtual festival that explores, showcases, and commemorates the legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven, with a focus on the many ways that China has embraced, interpreted, and enthusiastically appreciated the composer and his works. All events are online, free, and open to the public around the world, with registration available at https://www.barduschinamusic.org/china-and-beethoven.

The third edition of Bard’s annual festival, dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of classical music from contemporary China, will feature a series of musical and scholarly online events premiering daily from Dec. 11 to 18, coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the week of Beethoven's birth in 1770. Select events will also be broadcast in partnership with the Violin Channel, the premier online news source in the classical music industry.

Celebratory events to commemorate the anniversary of Beethoven’s birth have been planned all around the world, but nowhere more so than in China, where for over one hundred years Beethoven has enjoyed great popularity among audiences of all ages, as his perseverance in the face of adversity and his musical genius resonated in a nation searching for a way forward. Today, in a year upended by a global pandemic, this spirit of triumph over hardship increasingly resonates not just in China, but around the world. When theaters, concert halls, and orchestras found themselves unexpectedly shuttered for much of the year, many planned celebrations were put on hold or re-imagined. But as China and others begin to reopen, Beethoven once again takes center stage. This re-imagined virtual festival will provide a window into celebrations happening in China today, as well as exploring Beethoven’s legacy as a heroic figure during the changing politics of the 20th century and China’s oscillating affiliation with Western classical music.

Featured participants include: Jindong Cai, Artistic Director, China Now Music Festival, and co-author of Beethoven in China, considered to be the definitive work on the subject; Leon Botstein, President, Bard College; Tan Dun, composer, conductor, Dean, Bard College Conservatory of Music; Shanghai Symphony Orchestra; China National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra; Bard College’s The Orchestra Now; The Philadelphia Orchestra; Shanghai Youth Philharmonic Orchestra; Wu Man, pipa; Shenyang, bass-baritone; Daniella Travaglione, child vocalist; Julie Smith Phillips, harp; Wu Weiqiao, violin; Diana Borshcheva, piano; Xu Miao, ruan; Qi Yiduo, piano; Sheila Melvin, author; Jennifer Lin, filmmaker; Ryan Fleur, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Ambassador Nicholas Platt; Asia Society of Northern California; China Institute; and more.
  
Festival highlights include:

  • A concert and lecture tracing the story of Beethoven’s ascent into the cultural imagination of China through discussions with music scholars and musical interludes from the U.S. and China. (Dec 11)

  • An exciting and imaginative evening of musical interpretations of Beethoven with Chinese accents, presented by world-renowned artists including bass-baritone Shenyang, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, composer/conductor Tan Dun, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, The Orchestra Now, and musicians of the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music. (Dec 13)

  • A peek into the Chinese market for all things Beethoven, including a musical based on Beethoven’s life, a play describing how his music became known in China, and an ‘immersive multimedia Beethoven experience’ exhibition at the Shanghai Concert Hall. (Dec 14)

  • A concert to celebrate Beethoven’s birthday with the illustrious Shanghai Symphony, the oldest orchestra in China, featuring a selection of recent performances of some of Beethoven’s most iconic symphonic and chamber works. (Dec 15)

  • Early access to the new documentary Beethoven in Beijing, which follows the Philadelphia Orchestra on their first historic trip to China in 1973 and chronicles the opening of China to Western classical music since the end of the Cultural Revolution. Includes a discussion with the filmmakers and special guests who will look at the future of culture and diplomacy through classical music. (Dec 16 and 17)

  • A landmark performance of Beethoven’s complete Egmont, his musical setting of the 1787 play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in a new production by the China National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra in Beijing, with narration in Mandarin Chinese. (Dec 18)

For festival registration and complete details, visit https://www.barduschinamusic.org/china-and-beethoven

  
More About Beethoven’s Influence in China: Beethoven’s historical importance in China is extensive. Students returning from abroad introduced Beethoven to China first in 1906, and he remained a durable part of Chinese life in the decades that followed. He became an icon to intellectuals, music fans, and party cadres alike, and played a role in major historical events from the May Fourth Movement to the normalization of U.S.-China relations. He inspired intellectuals like Lu Xun and Cai Yuanpei, who considered him a role model for his dedication to principles of humanity and aesthetic taste. As a man who refused to bow to royalty, Beethoven was celebrated in the early days of the revolution before his music was forbidden in the cultural upheaval of the 60s and 70s. After the Cultural Revolution, ‘Beethoven fever’ would sweep the country, presaging his present-day popularity.

Full Festival Program

December 11, 2020, 7:30pm EST
China’s Sage of Music (Concert/Lecture)
The festival’s opening event traces the story of Beethoven’s ascent into the cultural imagination of China. Bard College President Leon Botstein shares remarks on Beethoven’s universal appeal and enduring relevance, followed by performances by Bard’s The Orchestra Now and the Shanghai Youth Philharmonic. Host Jindong Cai, the artistic director of the festival and the director of the US-China Music Institute, will provide the historical context for the festival.

December 12, 2020, 8pm EST
Beethoven in China (Webinar in Mandarin Chinese)
China Institute’s Renwen Society hosts Jindong Cai in a webinar discussion in Mandarin Chinese of his book Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People’s Republic.

December 13, 2020, 7:30pm EST
Beethoven Made in China (Concert/Lecture)
Experience an exciting and imaginative evening of musical interpretations of Beethoven with Chinese accents, presented by world-renowned artists including bass-baritone Shenyang, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, composers Tan Dun and Yu Jingjun, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, The Orchestra Now, and musicians of the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music. Hosted by Shenyang and Jindong Cai.

December 14, 2020, 7:30pm EST
Beethoven is Us (Producer’s Expo)
Host Jindong Cai and guests will offer a peek into the Chinese market for all things Beethoven, including a musical based on Beethoven’s life, a play describing how his music became known in China, and an ‘immersive multimedia Beethoven experience’ exhibition at the Shanghai Concert Hall.

December 15, 2020, 7:30pm EST
Shanghai Symphony: Night of Beethoven (Concert)
Celebrate Beethoven’s birthday with the illustrious Shanghai Symphony, the oldest orchestra in China, featuring a selection of recent performances of some of Beethoven’s most iconic symphonic and chamber works, specially selected for the China Now Music Festival.

December 16, 2020, 7:30pm EST
Beethoven in Beijing: an American Orchestra’s Journey (Private Film Screening)
Get early access to the new documentary Beethoven in Beijing, which follows the Philadelphia Orchestra on their first historic trip to China in 1973 and chronicles the opening of China to Western classical music since the end of the Cultural Revolution. In collaboration with History Making Productions, the Wharton School, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

December 17, 2020; 8pm EST
Building Bridges through Music: Beethoven in Beijing (Roundtable Discussion)
Hosted by Asia Society of Northern California and moderated by author Sheila Melvin, this discussion with the filmmakers Jennifer Lin and Jindong Cai, plus guests Ryan Fleur, executive director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Ambassador Nicholas Platt— looking at the future of culture and diplomacy through classical music.

December 18, 2020, 7:30pm EST
Egmont in China (Orchestra Concert)
The 2020 China Now Music Festival closes with a landmark performance of Beethoven’s complete Egmont, his musical setting of the 1787 play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in a new production by the China NCPA Orchestra in Beijing. With narration in Mandarin by Sun Qian, and featuring soprano Song Yuanming, the concert was recorded live at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on November 12, 2020, conducted by Lü Jia.

About the US-China Music Institute

The US-China Music Institute was founded at the Bard College Conservatory of Music in 2017 by conductor and classical music scholar Jindong Cai and Robert Martin, a cellist, philosopher, and the founding director of the Bard Conservatory. The Institute’s mission is to promote the study, performance, and appreciation of music from contemporary China, and to support musical exchange between the United States and China. It is the most comprehensive institution for Chinese music in the West, with unprecedented degree programs and research and performance opportunities for students, artists, composers, and scholars around the world.
Visit barduschinamusic.org

About the Bard College Conservatory of Music

Recognized as one of the finest conservatories in the United States, the Bard College Conservatory of Music is guided by the principle that young musicians should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences to achieve their greatest potential. The mission of the Conservatory is to provide the best possible preparation for a person dedicated to a life immersed in the creation and performance of music. The five-year, double-degree program combines rigorous conservatory training with a challenging and comprehensive liberal arts program. All Conservatory students pursue a double degree in a thoroughly integrated program and supportive educational community. Graduating students receive a bachelor of music and a bachelor of arts in a field other than music. At the Bard Conservatory the serious study of music goes hand in hand with the education of the whole person. Founded in 2005 by cellist and philosopher Robert Martin, the Conservatory welcomed the composer Tan Dun as its new dean in the summer of 2019. Visit bard.edu/conservatory

About Bard College

Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 parklike acres in the Hudson Valley. It offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Music degrees, with majors in nearly 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 11 programs; nine early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 159-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.

 

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