A British newspaper is reporting that Chinese authorities are banning or tightening controls on performances of sacred classics such as Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem. Even Carmina Burana has fallen under suspicion. (The Rochester Oratorio Society's repertoire came under Chinese scrutiny over the summer. Only a few weeks before the group's trip to China, conductor Eric Townell got an e-mail saying all of the music had to be vetted. His strategy? He sent translations with the word "Lord" spelled with a small "l" in hopes authorities might miss it.) Read the article here.
The most conspicuous performer at the Olympics probably couldn’t run a mile without stopping. The twenty-six year-old Chinese piano star Lang Lang has been prepping for his part in the Games for three years. He played this morning from Beijing on the Today show. And he’ll pop up tomorrow night during the Games’ opening ceremony.
Click here to hear conductor Eric Townell and myself talk about the Rochester Oratorio Society's recent trip to China. The show, recorded August 1st, was hosted by WXXI's Peter Iglinski. It's about 50 minutes long.
As far as I know, members of the Rochester Oratorio Society have either returned home safely from China or set off on independent journeys. One alto flew to Japan to spend time with her husband who’s doing research there. I flew home with a small group of singers. We called ourselves “The Shanghai Thirteen.”
If you’ve been following this blog, you may recall that I experienced a moment of irrational fear before leaving the States. I remembered it while I was in China and laughed at myself.
Click on the attachment below to hear the first run-through of "Flying Petals," a Chinese song. The Rochester Oratorio Society is singing in rehearsal here with the Shanghai Symphonic Choir at the Shanghai Conservatory. The soloist is a member of ROS. At the end, you'll hear a burst of spontaneous applause.
After two days in Shanghai, I asked members of the Rochester Oratorio Society and their family members,
"What's the difference between Beijing and Shanghai?"
"[Shanghai] is a little more sophisticated and a little more grungy, altogether." - Jackie
"First, Shanghai's more cosmopolitan, don't you think? People dress in a more stylish way. And the other thing is this: it's WAY hotter. It feels like a sauna and a steam bath in the sun."