Music migrates across borders

Updated: 2013-03-01 14:21

By Derek Bosko (China Daily)

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"I grew up with that Peking Opera, during the 'cultural revolution' (1966-76). That's one of the few operas we had during those times," she explains.

Now in its third year as a program, I Sing Beijing reflects the growing migration of modern Chinese music into Western classical music.

Music migrates across borders

Tapestries of history 

Music migrates across borders

 Art beat in Beijing

But Manhattan School of Music professor Patty Kopec dismisses typical American definitions of opera as narrow.

"Music is an international language, and it speaks to the heart," Kopec says.

Despite stark differences in the linguistic and musical conventions of Chinese and Western operas, the key to a successful performance, she says, is "not just to sing but to understand the content because then you sing from within your heart".

Kopec notes one-third of her students at the Manhattan music school are Chinese nationals - testimony to China's embrace of Western culture.

I Sing Beijing is just one example of China's growing cultural influence around the world.

The program was co-founded by Hanban, which administers Confucius Institutes, and the Asian Performing Arts Council. It promotes Chinese culture, and its operatic styles in particular, internationally. While the program was created with the idea of reviving and spreading Chinese songs, it also aims to fuse Chinese and Western elements.