Art Special: BMW initiative makes jazz 'Open for All'

Updated: 2014-11-04 08:17

By Fu Chao(China Daily)

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Over 3,000 Chinese audiences had the chance to enjoy high-quality art for free as BMW brought a program called Open for All to the country.

Part of the famed BMW Master Hall at the JZ Festival in Shanghai in mid October, the first Open for All show featured 20-time Grammy award winner Pat Metheny, the legendary jazz musician famed for his innovation and technical accomplishment.

The BMW Master Hall has offered performances by renowned artists as part of the festival since 2011.

This year, it brought the idea of Open for All to the program for the first time, offering Chinese audiences the chance to enjoy the charm of a jazz master for free.

Free art, free joy

"The general public usually believes that high art is literally high up there, with little or no access to it," said Peter van Binsbergen, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at BMW Brilliance.

"We hope that through the innovative Open for All project, people can have equal opportunities to experience the world's top art. Like the experience BMW wants to offer through its products, it is always an experience of joy."

The auto group started to offer free performances with its Opera for All program in 1997.

Together with the Bavarian State Opera, the carmaker brought open-air performances to the public for free. When the weather was fine, the audience numbered as high as 30,000 people and helped change the landscape of public culture in Bavaria.

Binsbergen said people usually have to dress up for an opera and sit in a hall with worries about when to applause or cheer, but "the 'Opera for All' program brought high art to the most public and common space of a city".

"It frees the art and gives it back to the public."

Alice Mei, vice president of marketing at BMWChina, noted that BMW has also sponsored the London Symphony Orchestra to give free open-air shows since 2012.

"In Trafalgar Square, people gathered for a feast of classical music. It is really a unique and beautiful scene," said Mei.

BMW has launched the BMW Master Hall program in China since 2012.

It features opera, jazz and modern dance along with seminars, salons and lectures that help the public better understand and enjoy art.

Binsbergen noted that like all people, the Chinese need cultural and artistic enjoyment, which is part of their spiritual life.

He said that the auto group has been working on offering fine artistic performance to more people in a more innovative way.

Mei said that in the many cultural programs, BMW is not a sponsor but a partner. It starts together with the artists from an idea and help it grow. During the process, BMW will try to offer the artists full independence and make the art genuine with free expression.

Music is an open sky

To choose jazz as the first Open for All show, is partly because it has a huge fan base in Shanghai and also for the art form needs an open stage, according to the two executives.

Jazz music celebrates free expression and boundary-less interaction with collaborators and audience.

At the Open for All performance, Metheny said he was impressed by audience's reaction.

"I think the idea is fantastic. I really like the stage and enjoy the feeling playing on it. I hope everyone can open up their hearts for different cultures and to feel the varied beauty of music," said Metheny.

He added that jazz is the expansion of life without boundaries, free to get anywhere.

"I really like what Sony Rollins the saxophonist said about music. He said it's an open sky." The BMW Master Hall's Open for All program offered an experimental stage for both artists and the audience to explore the boundary-less wonder of music.

Binsbergen said that for Metheny and his band, the stage and audience were very new and they had the full possibility to express themselves in any innovative way - because for an audience that never listens to jazz music, it is a very unique experience to enjoy the charm of something new and beautiful.

"No matter where, there should be no obstacle for an audience member to enjoy a certain kind of music," said Metheny. "I hope all of my shows will give the audience a feeling they've never heard before."

Art Special: BMW initiative makes jazz 'Open for All'

 Art Special: BMW initiative makes jazz 'Open for All'

Peter van Binsbergen, senior vice president of sales and marketing at BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd, at the BMW Master Hall in Shanghai.

 Art Special: BMW initiative makes jazz 'Open for All'

Top: Grammy award winner Pat Metheny at the BMW Master Hall. Middle: Music fans enjoy a light moment during the event. Above: The free performance gave many their first exposure to top-flight jazz. Photos Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 11/04/2014 page19)