International family music festival strikes a chord
Melodies blend and cultures harmonize as the vibrant Ruihong community in Shanghai's Hongkou District becomes a symphony of international unity at the captivating "China International Family Music Festival."
Themed around the concept of "Beautiful garden around Ruihong," the event attracted more than 100 residents from diverse backgrounds, both local and international, who showcased their musical talent at the atrium of the Hall of the Sun mall.
Guided by the Shanghai Information Office, Shanghai United Media Group, and the Publicity Department of Hongkou District, the festival was jointly hosted by Shanghai Daily and the Jiaxing Road Subdistrict. It exemplified Hongkou's commitment to revitalizing urban vitality and embracing a better life, according to the organizers.
With a diverse range of more than 40 programs, the festival featured bands and singers from Chinese and overseas families, blending Eastern and Western musical influences.
The enthusiastic performances by musicians and singers from different countries, including Australia, France, Singapore, Thailand, Morocco, and Lebanon, mesmerized the audience, immersing them in the enchanting power of music.
"The festival aims to deepen communication and understanding between Chinese and foreign families, and promote the exchange and development of Chinese and foreign cultures," said Dai Xiaoqun, director of the Jiaxing Road Subdistrict Community Culture and Activity Center.
Through this grand event, international attendees had the opportunity to experience Shanghai's beauty and its spirit of inclusiveness and openness, she added.
Since the organizers started soliciting performances both online and offline, the festival received more than 500 registrations. Out of those, more than 100 programs were selected to perform on stage, according to Dai.
These performances involved families who are not professional performers but enthusiastic amateurs, alongside some semi-professional hosts.
The event not only showcased talented musicians but also fostered communication and exchange between Chinese and foreign families, enabling them to express and share their cultures and emotions through the universal language of music.
Paul Rahme, a professional musician from Lebanon, performed multiple English songs, including "Human" and "Play That Funky Music," with children he mentored at a local school.
"This is a fantastic event, and I really enjoy music, I firmly believe in the power of music," Rahme told Shanghai Daily. He has been living in Shanghai for 14 years.
"I have been involved in music since I was a child, and although I've had various experiences in different fields, I have always felt that music is my true calling."
Rahme expressed his admiration for the blend of art and culture in Shanghai. Exploring the city's cultural aspects is always a delightful experience. He expressed his hope for more events to take place in various cultural spaces.
"Shanghai is a diverse city with a rich cultural environment," he noted. He moved to Shanghai from Sydney after getting married to a Chinese national.
Rahme had been preparing for the performance with the children for several weeks. They rehearsed part-time and even had a music camp to collectively create an original song for the festival.
The music festival, starting at noon and lasting until dusk, offered a spectacular display of various genres, including pop, rock, jazz and folk. Instrumental performances, choral singing, and dancing added to the visual and auditory feast.
Cai Lechen, a young man with autism, performed the classic piano piece "The Butterfly Lovers" at the festival.
"Today's event highlights the diverse and inclusive nature of Shanghai, a city that embraces people from all walks of life," said Cai's mother.
"Every ordinary people, including my son, has a stage to showcase their talent, and we are very happy about that."
Cai's musical talent emerged when he was 3 years old, despite being diagnosed with autism. He began learning piano at the age of 12 and has become a proficient performer.
He has been invited to perform at various venues such as the Shanghai Grand Theater and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and has won numerous awards.
His mother emphasized that this event was different from Cai's previous shows as it was an international and cross-cultural gathering.
"I'm relaxed, I'm not nervous but genuinely happy," said Cai. "My goal is to become self-reliant and take care of my parents and grandparents."
Attendees had the chance to connect with Chinese and foreign families from around the world, sharing the magic of music, engaging in conversations, forging new friendships, and broadening their horizons.
The Ruihong community emerged from the Hongzhen Old Street, once the largest remaining shantytown in Hongkou. It has transformed into the Ruihong Xincheng neighborhood, an upscale community with popular shopping complexes.
With more than 80,000 Chinese and overseas residents, the Ruihong community has witnessed active participation from foreign residents in various cultural activities, such as the international music festival, community Spring Festival gala, and spring couplets writing, said Dai.
The Hall of the Sun, one of Shanghai's largest commercial complexes, opened near the North Bund in Hongkou in 2021, enriching the vibrant commercial atmosphere of the waterfront.
The Shui On Land project is expected to become a landmark in the North Bund, which has been designated as the city's future central activity zone along the Huangpu River.
Featuring outdoor terraces covering approximately 4,000 square meters with multi-level greenery, the complex boasts a dome in the shape of three lotus leaves, covering 5,500 square meters. It is the largest sky dome in any local shopping center.
Indoor and outdoor spaces of the project are adorned with more than 150 species of shrubs and trees, along with waterways, waterfalls, and skywalks, creating a captivating environment for visitors to enjoy.