The NCPA celebrated its 13th anniversary on December 22nd. Unlike in the past, the NCPA “Open Day Arts Festival” has shifted from offline to online with a 12-hour live stream in response to the needs of epidemic prevention and control and the new norm of people’s work and life. The festival was presented in high definition on more than 30 online platforms, including the NCPA Classical Music Channel and CCTV.com, and was also streamed on numerous overseas platforms.
The Arts Festival started promptly at 10 A.M. After a promotional video for the anniversary had been shown, hosts GANG Qiang and XU Chunni greeted the audience in the newly renovated Western restaurant.
WANG Ning, President of the NCPA, sent his greetings to the netizens via a video; colleagues and artists from home and abroad also sent their best wishes to the NCPA via VCR. President WANG Ning said, “The year 2020 has been very unusual. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCPA did not stand down, but assumed its responsibilities as a national cultural platform and launched a series of timely anti-epidemic-themed art-works. Since the reopening of the NCPA, we have meticulously produced outstanding works such as Crossroads and The Count of Monte Cristo. At the same time, the NCPA has also launched online performances creatively, offering a free feast of arts every Saturday evening. We will adhere to the principles of pioneering, inheriting, innovating and acting inclusively, welcoming audiences and artists from all over the world with a broad mind.”
In the morning, CCTV host LI Zimeng and FAN Di’an, Chairman of the China Artists Association and President of Central Academy of Fine Arts, briefed netizens on the Exhibition of NCPA Collection in the NCPA East Exhibition Hall. The valuable and exquisite exhibits, along with a replay of the highlights of the NCPA 2020 International Museum Day Concert, allowed the netizens to expand their artistic experience with the blending of sound, stage and images.
Afterwards, hosts GANG Qiang and XU Chunni joined renowned theatre director WANG Xiaoying, young theatre director HUANG Ying and NCPA Drama Ensemble member DONG Wenliang to talk about the art of theatre and to discuss the philosophies in the NCPA dramas Crossroads and The Count of Monte Cristo. Later, netizens watched the highlights of these two new productions of NCPA online.
After the exhibition and the dramas brought rich spiritual enjoyment to the audience, the two hosts joined the famous violinist LÜ Siqing for a Western meal and a talk about art in the newly renovated Western restaurant.
During the break after lunch, host GANG Qiang, HUANG Xiaoman, NCPA’s Opera Music Director and Chorus Managing Director, and HOU Keming, Opera Film Director and Professor at the Department of Directing, Beijing Film Academy, shared their insights on opera production and behind-the-scenes stories of opera film production. After the talk, the netizens watched the highlights of documentary Pavarotti online, which has been presented by special invitation at the 2020 NCPA International Opera Film Exhibition.
Since 2013, the NCPA has produced and released 27 stage art films, covering opera, Peking opera, dance drama, drama and many other genres. As the world’s first 8K film, the panoramic sound film The Dawns Here Are Quiet won the Lumiere Award for the best 8K production in 2020. Host GANG Qiang discussed the details of the making of this opera film with TENG Junjie, the film’s director, and ZHANG Yang, a baritone and NCPA resident opera singer. Combined with the clips from the film, netizens were given a more in-depth understanding of the production of opera films.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the global performing arts scene hard, arts institutions have been trying to weather the crisis in their own ways. For the first time, the NCPA held the Beijing Forum for Performing Arts online to discuss “crises and opportunities in the pandemic”, and the BFPA was officially established. The afternoon stream introduced the members of the BFPA, shared their representative performances and provided a short video recap of the forum and the views of the institutions.
In the afternoon, hosts REN Luyu and LI Yangwei took over the live studio, reflecting on the days of fighting the epidemic with art together with NCPA Vice President ZHAO Tiechun, composer ZANG Yunfei and NCPA Chorus member WANG Shuting. During the epidemic, the NCPA took the initiative and launched 10 works on the theme of “Fighting the Epidemic Together–NCPA in Action” from February to April. Among them, What Angels Say has received more than 180 million views online. After the talk, Fighting the Epidemic with Art, a documentary on the NCPA’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, took the audience through the process of producing and launching the 10 anti-epidemic-themed works.
Afterwards, the two hosts joined Vice President ZHAO Tiechun, choreographer FEI Bo of the National Ballet of China, and young dancer LI Xing to take a look back at the dance works Until Then and Flying Against the Wind, which were presented during the epidemic by the NCPA and National Ballet of China respectively.
In addition to the 10 anti-epidemic-themed works, the NCPA has also launched online performance series such as “Spring Online”, “Sound of Summer Blooms”, “Bright Autumn Cadenza” and “An Invitation from Winter”, covering a wide range of genres including song, music, dance, drama and opera, delivering soul-soothing art works to audiences around the world. At present, the total number of hits for the 40 online performances has exceeded 1.2 billion. The online series have become an important cultural brand of the NCPA and a major cultural event in the field of arts.
At teatime, host LI Yangwei and young actress LI Xiaomeng visited the NCPA café. The live festival in the afternoon also featured a performance of My Motherland and My Motherland and Me by the four section principals of NCPA Orchestra and overseas artists. The familiar melodies sparked great resonance.
Later, NCPA children’s opera commission Effendi was staged. For the past decade, the NCPA has been committed to the popularization of high arts. In 2020, the NCPA launched an online programme for the popularization of arts, which has received widespread acclaim from netizens. During the stream, Peking Opera artists DU Zhenjie, SHI Yihong, ZHANG Huifang, CHEN Junjie and XU Mengke gave a unique micro-class on Peking Opera, expounding knowledge on the four major roles, namely “Sheng, Dan, Jing and Chou”. After that, CHI Xiaoqiu, qingyi actor of the CHENG School, and HU Wenge, qingyi actor of the MEI School, also appeared in the festival to talk about Peking Opera with the hosts. Both artists have taken part in the NCPA Peking Opera Classic Gala.
After experiencing the charm of the quintessence of Chinese culture, host ZHU Xun introduced the NCPA cultural and creative products to the audience at the NCPA Arts Gallery. Then, Cello player OUYANG Nana gave a performance for the audience in the public space in front of the West Café.
In the early evening, LIN Zexu, a drama commission co-produced by the NCPA and Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre, was about to be staged. Host ZHOU Tao paid a visit to the cast of LIN Zexu, who were in the midst of an intense rehearsal. She joined WANG Xiaodi, the director of the drama, Chairman and Artistic Director of the Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre, and the two lead actors, celebrated artists PU Cunxin and XU Fan, to reveal the story behind the scenes of the drama.
In the near future, the NCPA will enter the era of “one centre, three sites”. In addition to the NCPA located on the west side of Tiananmen Square, there will also be the NCPA Taihu Art Centre and the NCPA Theatre for the City Subcentre. During the stream, a set of exciting short videos showcased how large and functional the NCPA Taihu Art Centre is, and unveiled the blueprint for the construction of the sub-centre theatre.
During the epidemic, the wonderful online performances of NCPA have become the best company of the audience, and the documentary Art in the Clouds has given the audiences a glimpse into the production of the online performances. Conductor LI Xincao, who had participated in the online concerts, shared his fond memories in the stream. A representative of the NCPA fan club members also shared his experience of watching the performances online. Afterwards, a short video recapped on the memorable moments of the online performances.
In the evening, the online arts festival was taken to another new climax. CCTV host BAI Yansong joined NCPA Music Artistic Director LÜ Jia, the Director of NCPA Orchestra and the artists for an introduction of Beethoven’s classic works. Later on, under the baton of LÜ Jia, the NCPA Orchestra and Chorus presented Beethoven’s monumental works Fantasie fur Klavier, Chor Und Orchester and Symphony No.9 together with KONG Jianing, the youngest Chinese professor at the Royal Academy of Music and the last student of pianist FU Cong, and soloists ZHOU Xiaolin, NIU Shasha, XIAHOU Jinxu and GUAN Zhijing. The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and people have experienced an unusual year. With this concert, the NCPA wished to pay tribute to Beethoven, to year 2020 and to the great people.
The 12-hour live festival was a real treat, and many of those who were watching left their best wishes for the NCPA. With the help of technology, the NCPA has actively explored new models, developed new platforms and experimented with new methods to provide feasts of arts to the audiences. The Centre has been accompanying people with the arts. In the future, the NCPA will continue to nurture and inspire people with the arts and the assistance of technology.