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Foreign composers' competition promoting Chinese music
Latest Updated by 2006-05-16 10:14:13
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Eight French composers are using Chinese musical instruments for a composing contest that recently kicked off in Shanghai. This historic move is aimed at spur Chinese folk music on the international stage and changing the Chinese musician's Western orientation.

The competition is one of the most important programs of the Shanghai Spring Music Festival. The composers will be invited to tour the Chinese city, learn about Chinese music and select traditional Chinese musical instruments for their compositions.

"Foreign composers may have different approaches to Chinese folk music than we Chinese composers," said Chen Qigang, artistic director of the competition, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Chen is also a noted Chinese composer. Last year, he was awarded for his symphony creation by the French Society of Authors,Composers and Editors of Music (SACEM), becoming the first Chinese musician and non-French composer receiving the prize.

Chen said most of the Chinese musicians produce and judge localmusic according to Western theory and standards. "They consider success at an international competition the crowning glory of their professional career, and Western audiences' applause proof of their talent. Yet they leave the traditional Chinese music aside."

"It is undeniable that many Chinese musicians have scored top prizes in international competitions. However most of them are still imitating the Westernized music styles without showing the Chinese characteristics," Chen acknowledged.

As Chen and other insiders observe, the lack of confidence in Chinese folk music has led to little introduction of Chinese folk music among both domestic and overseas audiences. "The less we display folk music, the less people know about it."

In recent years, Chen noted, the rapid growth of China's national economy has provided a platform and an opportunity for local musicians to demonstrate the folk music.

Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng called on Chinese artistic and musical circles to actively conduct outward exchanges.

"Rise of Chinese folk music not only needs government support, but also demands Chinese musicians shrug off their inferiority complex," and innovate the current composing and producing style,"Chen added.

The competition was funded by the French national radio station. More than 40 French composers applied for the competition, but only eight were chosen to visit.

During the competition, French composers will also use Chinese melodies familiar to Western audiences, including "The Jasmine Flower".

Chen said local residents instead of experts will choose the three most popular pieces, which will be performed during the Festival Presences in France in 2008.

He also disclosed that the competition will be held annually with the financial support from France. Some northern European nations have also expressed a wish to finance the event.

"We hope this can help promote Chinese music across the world, and give Chinese musicians new ways to develop the national cultural essence." Chen said.

Editor: Wing 

By: Source: China View website
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