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NZCFS Delegation to Shanghai – Setting up Musical Links

L-R Karren Beanland (Director, Michael King Writers' Centre)   Jane Hole (Christchurch member), Vivienne Holmes (Dunedin member)    Madam Wei Zhi (Vice Exec Director Shanghai Spring Festival),  Colin Child (Dunedin member), Dave Adamson (VP South Island), George Andrews VP North Island),   Dave Bromwich (National President)
NZCFS Delegation to Shanghai, 2013, at Shanghai Spring Festival offices                                                        L-R:  Karren Beanland (Director, Michael King Writers’ Centre), Jane Hole (Christchurch member, author), Vivienne Holmes (Dunedin member), Madam Wei Zhi (Vice Exec Director Shanghai Spring Festival), Colin Child (Dunedin member), Dave Adamson (VP South Island, Christchurch), George Andrews VP North Island, Auckland), Dave Bromwich (National President, Treasurer Hawkes Bay)

 Imagine you have booked to attend a pipa concert in Shanghai and suddenly hear the sonorous strains of a Bach prelude being played.  This particular orchestra, however, with the exception of cello and double bass, is comprised of traditional Chinese instruments.  This musical feast was enjoyed by a Society delegation comprising members from Dunedin, Auckland, Christchurch and Hawkes Bay, at the beginning of September this year. 

Dunedin members, Viv Holmes and Colin Child, were interested in establishing a cultural connection with Shanghai, Dunedin’s Sister City, but with a musical focus.  They are members not only of the NZCFS but also of City Choir Dunedin, Dunedin’s main 100-voice choir as well as subscribers to Southern Sinfonia, Dunedin’s symphony orchestra.  Viv and Colin thought it would be a good idea to establish musical links along with the usual ties with Shanghai, and they found the tour a fascinating success.

This musical link was achieved through the organisation of the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival and possible follow-up possibilities, are all being considered now they are home again.

The main activity on 4th September, was a visit to the admin offices of the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival and the group met the Vice Secretary General of the organising committee, Madam Wei Zhi.   The festival has been in action, each May, for 30 years and now includes a Choral Arts Week as well as a festival of Chinese choirs.  Shanghai has some 3000 choirs, with each district having its own teachers, choir and other choirs from other professions.  In 2014, there will be a week-long festival of schoolchildren’s drama.  A small segment of Kiwi music from the Patea Maori Club took part this year, performing just two songs in the closing ceremony.

Tang Xiofeng, Pipa player
Tang Xiaofeng, pipa player

The crowning point was the September 6th concert, with Tang Xiao Feng playing the pipa, along with a string group and the Chinese Traditional Orchestra, delighting the audience with Bach, traditional Chinese items, and modern compositions for pipa and orchestra.  The concert impressed the members with a huge variety of sounds, some new to them, and the entire delegation delighted in this new experience which might not normally have been on a regular itinerary. 

The whole concert was a delight and Viv and Colin have plans for follow-up action.  To reinforce the Shanghai-Dunedin sister city relationship, they will look at possibilities of Dunedin choirs such as City Choir Dunedin, Southern Youth Choir, the renowned Otago Boys & Girls High School choirs, or other groups being involved in the Shanghai Choral Arts Festival in the future.

Viv and Colin will report their findings to the City Choir Dunedin committee who are presently organising an overseas choir from Japan to come in 2014.  They intend to suggest that if the Japan choir visit is successful, then they should invite a Shanghai choir to come in 2015.  Madam Wei Zhi from SSIMF has offered to help them achieve this aim.

Viv says that the delegation to China thoroughly enjoyed the music which was a veritable eye (and ear) opener for many of them and could prove a tempting thought for regular communication between the two countries.  She wishes to thank the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries – Youxie (SPAFFC),  for allowing them to experience such a trip and to Dave Bromwich as Delegation Leader.

Teri France, September, 2013

Your reporter wishes to thank Viv Homes and Colin Childs for their comprehensive report on which this article is based. 

For other articles covering other aspects on this Shanghai tour, click on the appropriate title below: 

Signing of the Memorandum of Intent at Shanghai Writers Association;

Visit to Shanghai Archives [article in prepartion];

Article by Jane Hole, author and Christchurch member, on visit to Qingpu – watertown and garden.