Taking Midi to the max

Updated: 2013-05-06 00:31

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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Taking Midi to the max

Cui Jian, the "godfather of Chinese rock 'n' roll", calls the Midi "the only music festival taking place in China for the sake of music". Li Lewei / for China Daily 

A music school with a modern rock outlook has produced an iconic festival, Chen Nan reports.

Back in the late summer of 1993, rock fan Shan Wei was an international relations student at Renmin University of China, selling pirated cassettes and CDs. The same year, Gao Hu had just arrived in Beijing to pursue his rock dream. And Zhang Fan, a Beijing native who became obsessed about rock 'n' roll after listening to Cui Jian's Nothing to My Name, was working at a company selling sound equipment.

The three rock enthusiasts barely knew each other then. However, just a few months later, Beijing Midi School was founded and brought them together.

Located on the second floor of a building near Shuang'an shopping center, China's first modern music school was started by the company where Zhang worked.

Zhang, then 26, became headmaster of the school, Gao came to study guitar and Shan made friends with students there.

This year Beijing Midi School celebrates its 20th anniversary. With more than 4,000 graduates, the school is considered to be the cradle of China's rock bands and rock musicians, such as singer-songwriter Xie Tianxiao and rock bands Miserable Faith and Second Hand Roses.

The three men have teamed up for the Beijing Midi Music Festival, China's largest and oldest outdoor music festival, which is also the brainchild of the school.

This month, the annual music festival will be held in three Chinese cities for the first time, expanding its influence from north to south: Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in Guangdong province.

Gathering more than 100 Chinese rock bands, this year's festival will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the school. Pictures and videos of how the school evolved and how it gave birth to the Midi Music Festival will be shown to fans.

Most of the Chinese rockers, who are the main power performing at various music festivals and live house venues across the country, are graduates from the school.

The school is "the seed for our musical evolution", says Zhang. "Whenever I think of that, I feel proud. It's always interesting to see how much it resonates today."

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