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France rewards the conductor with a prestigious distinction

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Orchestrator Xu Zhong receives a standing ovation after a concert of the Orchester de Paris at the Philharmonie de Paris, which performed works by Ravel and Rachmaninoff in 2019. He is expected to collaborate with the orchestra at the same venue in March. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhang Kun reported that Xu Zhang was awarded a Grand Prize by the Ministry of Culture in Paris.

Maestro Xu Zhong, head of the Shanghai Opera, received on December 15 the prestigious Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture and Communications.

According to Joan Valladou, Consul General of France in Shanghai, Xu won the award “for his outstanding musical achievements, as well as his important contributions to Sino-French cultural exchanges and global cultural communication.”

Created in 1957, the Order of Arts and Letters is one of the highest distinctions that can be awarded by the French government.

Although many Chinese who have excelled in the arts and literature have been awarded the “Knight” award, only a few have been awarded the officer’s award.

The 52-year-old pianist-turned-conductor is the first Asian musician to serve as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Massimo Bellini Theater in Italy, and the first Chinese musician to be appointed Musical Director and Conductor of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra in Israel. . ligature.

Shaw has donned many hats during his career, including Principal Director of the Fondazione Arena di Verona in Italy, President of Shanghai Opera, and the first international Opera President to represent Asia at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. External expert observer for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in the UK.

Xu is currently busy rehearsing Tosca, a joint production between Shanghai Opera and Shanghai Opera.

He composed an original opera, Homeland, and recently performed a musical version at the Nine Trees Future Arts Center in Fengxian District on the outskirts of Shanghai.

He was the songwriter and composer for the dance theater production of White Snake, which premiered at the Shanghai Grand Theater in November.

The dance stage production featured an all-star cast of award-winning dancers led by San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Dan Yuanyuan.

Xuan Jing, with Wenhui Daily, commented on Xu’s compositions: “He brought the Chinese instruments pipa (bamboo flute) and guzheng (Chinese zither) into classical orchestras to create rich and colorful music. You can see. A mixture of waltz, tango and flamenco, plus to modern electronic music influences. »

He adds that the East-West fusion of international music and aesthetics “shows that the diversity is intense” and provides a great creative space for the choreographer.

Now Joe plans to bring the dance-drama to France.

“As a Chinese musician, I am very fortunate to receive applause from all over the world,” said the musician. “I hope to build ‘cultural bridges’ with my magic wand so that more good Chinese music and opera can be brought to the international stage for people all over the world to listen, watch and love,” he said.

A global ambassador for classical music, especially opera, Xu was appointed Head of the Shanghai Opera in 2016. He has subsequently accompanied the company to several international performance venues, including London’s Theatre, Musikfestspiel Saar in Saarbrücken, Germany. Estonia Opera Festival and Dubai Opera.

He greatly expanded the company’s repertoire and helped improve the quality of opera performances.

A new grand opera stage is being built in the Pudong area, and Shanghai Opera will be the first group to stage high-quality opera performances there.

“Opera performance cannot be raised overnight. This must be achieved through continuous efforts to create high-quality works and nurture new talent,” Shaw said.


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