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A Bridge between China and the Rest of the World


Dec. 7, Thurs: "Chinese and Western Music Diverging" by Nick Smith

Members of RASBJ are invited to a joint RASBJ/Chevening Alumni presentation on Chinese and Western music at the British Ambassador’s Residence. Please be sure to comply with the British Embassy’s requirements for registration and admission; questions should be e-mailed to Cheveningevents.beijing@fco.gov.uk. This Event is free, and open only to Chevening Alumni and Members of RASBJ.

What: “Chinese and Western Music: When, How and Why they Diverged” by Nicholas Smith, doyen of western musicians living in China

When: Thursday December 7, 6.00pm-8.00pm (talk will start 6.30)

Where: British Embassy Residence, 15 Guang Hua Lu, Chaoyang district, Beijing

How much : Free for RASBJ Members and Chevening Alumni

Language: English

Registration: RASBJ members have been emailed an invitation and registration form; if you wish to attend, and are an RASBJ member but did NOT receive an invite, please email communications.ras.bj@gmail.com. To register, please fill out and submit the form to Cheveningevents.beijing@fco.gov.uk by Sunday Dec 3, with full name and photo ID number; in case of high demand, spaces will be allocated in order of application . Admission only with photo ID. 

More about the event:

Why do Chinese audiences tend to prefer Verdi to Wagner?  Why are symphony orchestra “in” while chamber music is “out” in China?  From common beginnings, Chinese and Western music have taken different turns in the march through the centuries – but how did this happen?  And where does this leave the Western classical tradition in China today?

    Nicholas Smith, OBE, will address these questions and many more. Currently the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Peking Sinfonietta, and the International Festival Chorus, based in Beijing, Nick Smith has been a pioneer in the introduction of world class western classical music performances to Chinese audiences.Under Mr. Smith’s direction, the Peking Sinfonietta offers China’s most innovative programming while the International Festival Chorus is acclaimed as the PRC’s best choir in its field and the only group in China working consistently to introduce the western choral-symphonic repertoire to audiences throughout the country.  In addition to his other contributions to the performing arts, Mr. Smith was appointed honorary professor of the Conducting Department of the China Music Conservatory in 2007 and honorary professor of the Tianjin Music Conservatory in 2011.

Mr. Smith has worked with many groups worldwide, including the China Philharmonic Orchestra, the China National Film Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon, Teatro Lirico di Spoleto and the City of Glasgow Chorus.

Over the last 12 years, Mr. Smith has conducted and helped to stage numerous concerts of significance for the development of western music in China, including the PRC’s first performances of works ranging from Bach’s St John Passion to Elgar’s The Music Makers, as well as the PRC’s first ever fully staged Broadway musical Lady in the Dark which featured stars from London’s West End

In 2011, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on Mr. Smith the honour of Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to music in China and to the enhancement of Sino-British relations. In the same year he won Phoenix TV’s “You Bring Charm to China” award for his efforts to encourage and promote western classical music.

In pursuit of his goal to be a bridge between cultures, Mr. Smith has embarked upon a programme of composing orchestral music that combines western instrumentation with Chinese folk motifs.  Tears in My Bowl is a piece that weaves together the folk tradition of China’s inner Asian frontiers and a western orchestration.  It is an indication of Mr. Smith’s  future work that will serve as a synthesis of musical traditions from disparate parts of the globe. His composition An Englishman in Beijing is an impressive oral tapestry based on the sounds and impressions of life in China’s capital.  Mr. Smith’s music has been released by Heritage Records.

Join Chevening and the Royal Asiatic Society at the British Ambassador’s Residence for an evening of musical exploration, wonderful conversation, and delightful food!

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