Western and Eastern musical fusion reinvigorates historical venue

A concert featuring a fusion of Western and Eastern music was held on Tuesday evening at the historical Zhangyuan Garden, once a hub of all things modern and foreign.
Ti Gong

The concert is held in the historical Zhangyuan Garden.

Ti Gong

A Kunqu Opera performer works with foreign ensembles.

A concert featuring a fusion of Western and Eastern music was held on Tuesday evening at the historical Zhangyuan Garden, once a hub of all things modern and foreign.

Music ensembles from Spain played pieces written by foreign priests for ancient Chinese emperors about 400 years ago. A Kunqu Opera performer sang traditional Chinese opera with the accompaniment of Western musical instruments.

Holding the concert in Zhangyuan, an historical neighborhood compromising old shikumen buildings and Western-style villas, is particularly apt as it features both Chinese and Western elements.

Zhangyuan was built in 1872 by a British merchant before Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Shuhe bought it and transformed it into a public gathering spot. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Chinese operas, magic shows, gambling and dining were on offer there.

As newer indoor entertainment complexes such as cinemas emerged, Zhanguan lost its shine. In 1919 it was turned into a residential complex. 

Today, it is gaining back its past glory.

Shikumen have become an icon of Shanghai’s culture, and Nanjing Road W. subdistrict, which administers Zhangyuan, wants to rejuvenate and activate the legacy by inserting "cultural fusion."

It is part of a series of cross-cultural activities organized by the Oriental Danology Institute in Zhangyuan. Two years ago, the institute organized a series of cultural events featuring the works of Chilean artists, providing a platform for cultural exchange.

“History can be seen as a building, and a building can be seen as a musical instrument,” Wang Jieming, director of the subdistrict said.

Special Reports
Top