Feel the music filling the summer air

The popular festival "Music in the Summer Air," about bringing high-quality, low-cost concerts to Shanghai, is back for its ninth season in July.

Ti Gong

Jaap van Zweden, the New York Philharmonic's new music director, will conduct the orchestra at this year's MISA in Shanghai.

Bringing high-quality, low-cost concerts to Shanghai, “Music in the Summer Air” is back for its ninth year from July 1 to 16. The concerts will be held at the Shanghai Symphony Hall in Xuhui District and the Shanghai Urban Music Lawn in Huangpu District.

With the goal of providing the general public with easy access to classical music, this year’s MISA will present 24 programs, 14 of which will be streamed live.

“It is not easy to organize live-streaming concerts, especially those of classical music, due to copyright issues,” says Zhou Ping, president of the 138-year-old Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. “Tickets sold out very quickly in the past. The means of live-streaming allows more people to enjoy classical music, which is exactly the goal of the festival.”

During the 15-day festival, audiences will have an auditory feast. Music for many tastes — classical, rock and electronic, exotic and domestic — will be featured.

The four concerts by the New York Philharmonic will be among the highlights of the festival. This will be its fourth annual appearance. The orchestra will be conducted by its new music director, Jaap van Zwedena.

The music will feature Beethoven’s and Prokofiev’s Fifths and Leonard Bernstein’s masterpieces to mark the the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, will also travel to Shanghai to present an outdoor concert on July 14 at the Shanghai Urban Music Lawn.

Alexandre Desplat, winner of two Academy Awards for his soundtracks of the films “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Shape of Water,” will lead the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in performing works selected from his scores.

Ti Gong
Ti Gong

Embracing cultural diversity, this year’s MISA invited artists of both exotic and domestic musical instruments, including the ukulele, the guzheng (Chinese zither) and the suona (double-reeded horn).

Paying tribute to Velvet Underground, one of the most influential rock and avant-garde bands, MISA curates a 50th anniversary memorial concert with its founding member, John Cale. Vocal duties will be taken over by China’s Zhang Shouwang.

Original music composed by local artists will also be performed during the festival. B6, the stage name of multi-talented electronic music pioneer Lou Nanli, will perform songs from the Chinese drama “Blossoms.”

It is adapted from the novel of the same name, which was written by Jin Yucheng and won the 9th Mao Dun Literary Prize in 2005.

“Over the past few years, MISA has introduced to China several animation soundtracks created by foreign companies, such as the BBC documentary ‘Planet Earth’,” says Zhou. “Actually, there are many excellent Chinese animations which deserve more attention.”

This year’s festival, therefore, presents a classic Chinese animated film “Secrets of the Heavenly Book” (1983).

Ti Gong

The cartoon is part of the collective memory of people born in the 1970s and the 1980s. As a member of this generation, Chinese composer Shen Yiwen is making the musical arrangement, and more than 30 years later the original cast will voice the cartoon again.

“I was not sure at first whether I was still qualified to dub for the lead role of Dansheng (a little boy in the cartoon),” says Ding Jianhua. “It was like a grandmother dubbing for her grandson. I was afraid that my voice would sound too contrived.”

Ding says she spoke the words like “shifu” (master) and “laogonggong” (grandfather) in Dansheng’s tone in front of her grandchildren and asked for their opinions. With their support, her confidence returned.

Promoting music education among students has always been one of MISA’s missions. Apart from virtuosos, MISA also provides a stage for teenagers. The young members of the Shanghai Youth Chinese Orchestra, the Shanghai Youth Choir and the Shanghai Youth Philharmonic Orchestra will showcase their talents on the Dream Stage.

Performance details

Date: July 1-16
Ticket: 100-600 yuan (80 yuan for students)
Venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall
Address: 1380 Fuxing Rd M.
Venue: Shanghai Urban Music Lawn
Address: 523 Yan’an Rd E.
Visit www.misa.org.cn for more information. 



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