Yellow River to unleash torrent of pride for anniversary

China Daily
Wang Xinjuan
2020-09-04 10:45:40
Li Xincao (standing) conducts the China National Symphony Orchestra during the staging of Yellow River Cantata in Beijing on Wednesday. [Photo by Lu Xu/For China Daily] The Yellow River is "roaring" again in the concert hall.

When the familiar melody for generations of Chinese people resounds, facial masks are unable to cover the spectators' emotions. They cannot help clapping to the rhythm during the climax and perhaps shivering with emotion as well.

In 1939, when musician Xian Xinghai and poet Guang Weiran created Yellow River Cantata, in Yan'an, Shaanxi province-the center of Chinese Communist revolution-their beloved home country was ravaged by invaders and was approaching the edge of being subjugated. Nevertheless, the encouraging movements tell Chinese people that victory shall come.

On Wednesday night, the eve of the 75th anniversary of Chinese people's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), the China National Symphony Orchestra cooperated with the China National Opera House Chorus to bring it to the stage of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

"No other work suits the pivotal anniversary more," Li Xincao, chief conductor of China National Symphony Orchestra who leads the concert, told China Daily backstage before the concert. "And as musicians have left the stage for a long time (due to COVID-19), it's cheerful to return with such a work with strength.

"Today's people have got used to enjoying Yellow River Cantata, which is performed by a big orchestra in a splendid concert hall," Li says."However, its debut in Yan'an only witnessed an orchestra composed of several people with their handmade musical instruments and a 20-odd-people chorus.

"Why a work born in such a difficult environment can be immortal and still favored today? That is because of the great spirit that it stands for," he continues. "I've performed this cantata numerous times in the past decades, as the conductor, in the orchestra, or in the chorus. However, it's a work we'll never feel bored with. Every time we perform it, we can feel the passion. So will listeners."

And to mark the comeback for this milestone, Chinese orchestras also lift the curtain on a performance season running through Sept 20 marking the 75th anniversary.

Twenty award-winning orchestra concerts, stage plays, ballets, local Chinese operas, among other genres of performances featuring the War of Resistance have been or will be shown all over Beijing's venues including the NCPA, the Mei Lanfang Theater, and the China National Theater for Children.

The repertoire also includes other time-tested classics like Peking Opera The Legend of the Red Lantern, and the stage play Four Generations Under One Roof.

All tickets to the performances are sold at affordable prices. For example, the most expensive ticket for Yellow River Cantata is 300 yuan ($44). And netizens can also watch the online streaming broadcast of the 20 shows via the official website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for free.

"The shows are to remind us to remember history, honor the martyrs, cherish the peaceful environment, and set a new path for the future," Hu Heping, minister of culture and tourism, said at the opening ceremony of the performance season in the NCPA on Wednesday. "They combine to explain that Chinese people's great spirits centering on patriotism is the decisive reason why China won the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

"The cultural legacy will continue to be a powerful impetus for Chinese people to overcome difficulties and achieve national rejuvenation."

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