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Press Releases

Beijing Music Festival: Innovation for the 21st Century in the 21st Season

November 7, 2018 | By Matt Herman
Managing Partner, 8VA Music Consultancy

Beijing, China, November 7, 2018 – A star-studded performance of Maestro Long Yu, the Hangzhou Philharmonic, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Silkroad Ensemble drew the 21st Beijing Music Festival to a dramatic close on 26 October. This season explored a diverse offering of repertoire focused on traditions, while pushing and exploring new boundaries in music.

Held every October, Beijing Music Festival (BMF) is the most important cultural event in China, and the 2018 season marks the first season with the programming of new artistic director Shuang Zhou. Established in 1998, BMF has pioneered an extraordinary legacy over the last 20 years under the direction of Maestro Long Yu. The Festival announced Maestro Long Yu would pass the artistic directorship baton to Shuang Zhou last spring.

BMF’s 21st season made great strides into forging new initiatives for the 21st century. The programming offered a diverse array of repertoire intent on exploring innovative and boundary-crossing presentations. Harkening to Shuang Zhou’s background in theatre, the festival showcased a half-dozen diverse works of music drama and theatre including Farewell my Concubine, which combined traditional Chinese opera with a boundary-pushing production; the Asian premiere of The Orphan of Zhao; and the world premiere of the immersive opera Orfeo.

The season also honored the rich tradition of classical music. Highlights included pianist Krystian Zimerman and the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; Rudolf Buchbinder performing the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos; a chamber music evening featuring the Shanghai Quartet and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Quartet with clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer; Paavo Järvi conducting the Tonhalle Orchestra with pianist Khatia Buniatishvili; and special tributes to the Leonard Bernstein Centenary by the China Philharmonic with conductor Huang Yi.

About the Beijing Music Festival

Beijing Music Festival is the premier event in China’s cultural calendar and takes place every October. Maestro Long Yu founded the festival and served as the artistic director until announcing new artistic director Shuang Zhou earlier this year. The festival has a rich tradition of pioneering new frontiers and has presented numerous historical performances such as the China premiere of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 (2002); the Asian premiere of Alban Berg's opera, “Lulu” (2002); Guo Wenjing's operas, “Ye Yan” (2003) and “Wolf Club Village” (2003); and the China premiere of Richard Wagner's complete Ring Cycle (2005). BMF’s co-commission with Opera Boston, “Madame White Snake,” was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize.

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