Xiao Youmei: Query
The legendary story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, better known as the “Butterfly Lovers,” has long reverberated in traditional Chinese opera. Localized differences aside—the fundamental narrative appears in Yue, Shaoxing and Sichuan opera—this grievous love story doomed by rigid social conventions is rightfully considered an elemental part of China’s historical heritage. More recently, it has made its way onto the cinematographic screen, and even into the world of serial television and animation. For two students from the Shanghai Conservatory, this folk legend provided the basis for a work for violin and orchestra, aptly named The Butterfly Lovers Concerto. The skillful blending of models and techniques from the Western symphonic tradition with Chinese folk music and local instrumental/vocal techniques created a redolently musical symbolism that has easily become a modern Chinese classic.
Chen Gang/He Zhanhao: Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto
Ding Shande: Long March Symphony
Wang Xilin is one of Shanghai’s most famous composers. He studied composition at the Conservatory with Liu Zhuang, Ding Shande, and Qu Wei and graduated in 1962. With the onset of the Cultural Revolution, Wang gave a public speech in 1964 criticizing the blanket crackdown on 20th century Western classical music. His reward for speaking out was forced hard labor in Datong, 6 months in a mental asylum, and imprisonment during the Cultural Revolution. His Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 56 was commissioned by the Swiss Arts Festival “CultureScapes,” and premiered in November 2010. It was his deep resentment of the Cultural Revolution that motivated him to compose this concerto as a counterbalance to the Yellow River Piano Concerto, a work that has become a symbol of the revolution. The work is dedicated to his teacher Lu Hongun—conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra—who was killed during the Cultural Revolution.
Wang Xilin: Piano Concerto, op. 56