On September 16th, 2022, themed with “Zeitgeist”, Season 2022/23 of the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus was formally made public. That evening, under the baton of conductor LI Xincao, the China NCPA Orchestra (NCPAO) raised the curtain for Season 2022/23 with Overture of Der Freischutz by Weber, Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss and Symphony No. 2 in E minor by Rachmaninoff.
The China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus will present 149 performances in total, including 29 sets of 53 symphonic concerts, 17 sets of 23 chamber music concerts, 11 sets of 22 chorus concerts and ten sets of 51 opera concerts. The ingenious planning, diverse repertoire and top-notch cast appropriately epitomize dynamic and robust posture of the NCPA in art productions and its crucial role in the demonstration and leadership of music circles.
When it comes to the theme of this new music season, REN Xiaolong, Managing Director of the NCPAO, said, “All the time, literature and art mirror, shape and carry forward the ‘Zeitgeist’. The theme of the ‘Zeitgeist’ not only pays tribute to the precious value of literature and art, but also is a type of self-encouragement among literary and art workers.” According to him, for the first time, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel put forward the concept of “Zeitgeist” in German in the early 19th century, and interpreted it as “the general intellectual, moral and cultural climate, characteristics and tendencies of an era”. German word of “Zeitgeist” emerged as a common philosophical vocabulary in English and Latin. Subsequently, the “Zeitgeist” becomes a topic often emphasized in contemporary Chinese life, concerned by society, and analyzed by academics. The “Zeitgeist” has not only transcended the scope of time, space and culture, but serves an important proposition in the global literary and art circles.
In Music Director LÜ Jia’s viewpoint, in the process of researching and understanding the spirit of a certain era, music is an extremely effective medium and can be said to be the incarnation of the Zeitgeist. Season 2022/23 is expected to make the best of music to observe and touch the Zeitgeist together with the audiences, thereby not only looking back to history, but also chronicling the present and looking into to the future. To this end, Season 2022/23 takes four explicit or implicit work clues, namely “World Classics”, “National Characteristics”, “Contemporary Spirit” and “Young Generation”, thereby giving shape to inheritance, innovation, mutual learning and development of the “Zeitgeist”.
For the fourth consecutive year, ZHU Wei, guest visual artist of the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus, also showcases his thematic paintings. In 31 themed paintings steeped in the savours of the era, he reconstructs the shapes of the orchestral instruments with elegant and complex digital lines. From a new perspective, visitors feel inspired to re-examine these seemingly familiar musical instruments, see through and focus on the innermost spirit inside the outer forms of musical instruments. LI Zhe, Concertmaster of the NCPAO, is exhorted by these paintings. “A musical instrument, an orchestra, and an era must uphold the spirit and soul. Only by being an orchestra brimming with spirit and soul can it perform better to carry forward and write brilliant chapters for the Zeitgeist!”
In the carefully-arranged four work clues as above, penetrating tints of the era can be found everywhere. According to TANG Ning, Artistic Planning & Marketing Head of the NCPAO, NCPAO will set a precedent by staging the worldwide contemporary masterpieces and national instrumental concertos systematically and on a large scale during this music season, which will be in the form of sections.
The sections entitled, “Heralds of the Time” and “Sounds of China” will not only shed light on the represented masterpieces composed by John Coolidge Adams, Arvo Pärt, Toru Takemitsu, György Ligeti, John Cage, Philip Glass, Qigang Chen, TAN Dun, GUO Wenjing, YE Xiaogang and other contemporary maestros, but also the concertos of traditional national instrumental music in the form of pipa, zheng, guanzi, bamboo flute and suona by ZHOU Long, FANG Dongqing, ZHAO Jiping, HAO Weiya and GUAN Xia. The NCPAO will offer an unprecedented feast with the flaming contemporary spirit and radiating national characteristics to the utmost extent. According to TANG Ning, this kind of arrangement implies the intention of systematically introducing the worldwide contemporary masterpieces, exploring and promoting the works with national characteristics, and advancing the mutual learning and exchanges between the Chinese and Western music.
Additionally, as the NCPAO as is concerned, there are many bright spots in its exploration of classical works. Under the baton of Music Director LÜ Jia, following Symphony No. 6 and Symphony No. 9 by Anton Bruckner, which were well-received during the previous two seasons, the NCPAO will perform and record Symphony No. 3, Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8 during Season 2022/23. The most works by Bruckner will be performed by the NCPAO during this music season. In addition, Daphnis Et Chloe Suite by Ravel (conductor LÜ Jia), Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss and Symphony No.2 by Rachmaninoff (conductor LI Xincao), Symphony No.3 by Charles Camille Saint-Saens (conductor LIAO Guomin), Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz (conductor HONG Yiquan) and Symphony No. 8 by Shostakovich (conductor LIN Daye) will hold the spotlight, which are highly anticipated by the audiences.
The intensive appearance of young conductors and performers not only adds bright youthful luster to the new music season, but proves great concern and kind support of the NCPAO for promising stars. LAI Jiajing and SUN Yifan, the new Assistant Conductors of the NCPAO, will present two sets of classical and modern works. YIN Jiongjie (an award winner of Besancon International Conducting Competition), SUN Yutong (a well-received artist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition), Abu (DAI Liang, a talented jazz pianist), YU Xiang (new Second Violin of Shanghai Quartet) and LU Yiwen (an emerging erhu artist) will make a debut during Season 2022/23. The vigorous power of the youth heralds that these new-generation musicians, who chronicle the Zeitgeist for the future musical life, are maturing.
A total of 15 conductors and more than 30 soloists will collaborate with the NCPAO, while six conductors will perform together with the China NCPA Chorus. In addition to those mentioned as above, other conductors, such as LI Biao, ZHANG Guoyong, JING Huan, YANG Yang, XU Zhong, ZHANG Yi, TAN Dun, WU Lingfen, ZHENG Jian, JIAO Miao and MENG Huan, and soloists for playing or singing, such as SUN Yingdi, SHENG Yuan, ZHANG Haochen, HUANG Mengla, WANG Zhijiong, WANG Xiaoming, QIN Liwei, LEI Jia, WANG Hongwei, HAN Peng and ZHANG Yang, will showcase their own brilliant skills. Pianists Lang Lang and Gina Alice will also perform in NCPA for the first time, and join “Chinese New Year Waltz” Concert prior to the advent of the Lunar New Year 2023, together with the NCPAO under the baton of LÜ Jia.
In addition, the internationally-renowned soprano Hui He, who is Artist-in-Residence, is also an important attraction for this music season. As an artist-in-residence, Hui He will play the leading role in the opera Tosca, the first-ever revival and revision by the NCPA after an elapse of ten years. She will spare no efforts for classical opera excerpts by Puccini and Wagner in a concert together with the NCPAO under the baton of LÜ Jia. Two sets of four concerts and an opera concert will be held to celebrate its 25th anniversary of debut on the world stage.
With the expansion of the NCPAO and the growing number of concert performers, the part of chamber music will continue to be upgraded and expanded during this music season. “Unbounded Chamber Music”, with 17 sets of 23 concerts, will resound for the first time during the Chamber Music Week of Langyuan, a landmark cultural and creative area in Beijing. The ever-increasing fixed ensembles for chamber music and the wonderful cooperation of well-known soloists indicate that in the realm of chamber music, the NCPAO has become more sophisticated in both quantity and quality and plentiful in both form and content.
On the star-studded chamber music stage, the Shanghai Quartet led by LI Weigang, guitarist YANG Xuefei, erhu artist LU Yiwen, bamboo flute artist ZHANG Weiliang, pipa artist WU Man, pianist Abu (DAI Liang), horn artist HAN Xiaoguang, violinist WANG Xiaoming and other artists will greet music enthusiasts. They will join hands with various ensembles of the NCPAO to roll out “Unbounded Chamber Music” Series, going beyond traditional imagination and breaking the boundaries between China and the West in a true sense.
Moreover in late October 2022, through the well-planned “NCPAO in the City” Series, the NCPAO will also join hands with Langyuan, an organ of the Beijing Capital Group Company Limited, to shine in the Langyuan cultural and creative parks, such as the Langyuan Vintage, Langyuan Station and Langyuan Park. Nine chamber music concerts with different repertoires will be held in various theatres. The NCPAO will share beautiful chamber music with the public in a profound and easy-to-understand manner, and to help classical music embrace the people and integrate into the city.
During the season 2022/23, the NCPAO remains committed to the premiere of many important works: At the invitation of the NCPAO, ZHAO Jiping has devoted himself to creating the symphonic fairy tale The Story of Huaer in the past two years. Crystallizing the essence of the soundtrack of Huaer (a dance drama created ten years ago) and his long-standing research on northwestern folk music into a grand symphonic chorus, The Story of Huaer will usher in a world premiere in November 2022, which will be jointly presented by ZHANG Guoyong and NCPAO. YAO Chen, a young composer commissioned by the NCPAO for the first time, always dedicates to the creation based on profound knowledge. World premiere of YAO Chen’s symphonic work Voyage, inspired by “Tian Shu” Works Series by the famous calligrapher Mr. HAN Meilin, will kick off at a special concert in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the NCPA. During the season, new work Butterfly · Transmutation, jointly commissioned by NCPAO and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic to HUANG Ruo, will finally usher in a world premiere after getting rescheduled three times due to the epidemic. Additionally, the audiences will find everything fresh from Concerto of Traditional Stringed and Woodwind Instruments composed by LIANG Lei for bamboo flute, xiao and string quartet, and tailor-made Chinese-style dance music composed by HAO Weiya for the upcoming “Chinese New Year Waltz” Concert.
As the third music season of the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Season 2022/23 features larger scale, added categories and more subtle ingenuity, which reveals an extraordinary development path over the past two years despite the raging epidemic. The China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus dynamically arrange their performances under online and offline approaches. Instead of the decline in the number of performances and artistic quality, the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus have shown a steady upward trend, setting an example and playing demonstrating role for many other peers.
During the new music season, in addition to going all out for the scheduled performances, by way of online and offline performances in sync, the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus will keep on recording and broadcasting live high-quality online concerts, which is a routine practice over the past two years. Moreover, under the new pattern of “one headquarters and three sites” of NCPA, the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus have started to employ more artists, and will expand to a new scale in the next 3-5 years in order to inaugurate a city sub-center theatre of Beijing in 2023. The China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus will carry out “dual-core” operations in the epoch of “dual home venues”, and put many management ideas on optimization and upgrade into practice, with a view to bursting development vigour “from the inside out”.
Year 2022 also marks the tenth year Concertmaster LI Zhe has worked in the NCPAO. There are more than 40 resident artists such as him, with work experiences in the NCPAO for more than ten years. The China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus are heading towards their golden age with solid steps. Looking forward to the future, LI Zhe comments emotionally: “An artist’s responsibility and mission always rest in the inheritance and innovation of the Zeitgeist. With the growing team and the diversified artistic activities, our ability to perform our duties and responsibilities will definitely be stronger. Spirit, temperament and quality of NCPA artists will never change, however.”
For more details of the Season 2022/23, please visit official website of the China NCPA Orchestra (www.chncpa.org/ncpao) to download the electronic version of the music season manual. The music season information is simultaneously posted on the WeChat Account and Weibo Account of the NCPAO. In addition, please click to watch the music season video released on the video account and Bilibili account of the NCPAO. For information about the music season in English, please visit the official website in the English version (www.chncpa.org/ncpao/en), Facebook and Instagram accounts of the NCPAO.