Music in the Summer Air festival returns

Xu Ziqing
Now in its 11th year, the festival kicks off later this month at Shanghai Symphony Hall with a program featuring classical works and new compositions.
Xu Ziqing

The Music in the Summer Air (MISA) festival will return for its 11th year on July 20 at Shanghai Symphony Hall, and feature 21 concerts over 10 days.

Due to the pandemic, most of the world's music festivals have been canceled or postponed.

“Opportunities often come out of challenges. Although foreign musicians could not come to Shanghai, our international arena will remain open to all musicians and audiences,” said Zhou Ping, head of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

“Reunion” is the theme for this year's MISA, which is returning with diverse musical genres and creative compositions.

Pandemic-control measures are still in effect, such as limiting visitors to only 30 percent of the venues' maximum capacity for each show. In response, the orchestra has made some changes to this year's program. 

Zhou explained that the orchestra has shortened some concerts from two hours to 40 minutes, and will hold two shorter concerts instead of a long one on some nights. Audiences can choose to attend these concerts at 7pm or 9pm.

The festival invites orchestras from different cities in China as well as stars such as Gong Linna, Huo Zun, Li Quan and Rainbow Chamber Singers to perform with conductor Yu Long, composer Tan Dun, baritone Shen Yang, soprano Huang Ying and other classical luminaries.

The festival's concert repertoire also includes works by Beethoven, as this year is the 250th anniversary of his birth. Flute player Hu Zhe, baritone Shen and the East Coast Quartet will perform some of Beethoven’s lesser-known vocal ballads on July 23.

“We also have some newly composed music to commemorate those who passed away in the epidemic, and to convey love and warmth,” said Zhou.

“Tan Dun’s new composition 'Buddha Passion,' performed by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Lanzhou Concert Hall Chorus under the baton of Tan Dun and featuring Shen Yang and Huang Ying, will conclude the festival.”

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