Music proves a two-way street for promoter
Updated: 2013-05-01 14:30
By Mike Peters (China Daily)
Above: African dancers performed twice a day for the Shanghai Expo.
If you want to talk to Dick Mackridge about China, be prepared for him to burst into song.
"Night and you - and 'Blue Shanghai'
Those nights were heavenly, when you were near to me
Lovely you - and 'Mei li Shanghai'
With all that loveliness - the days were so good
There's no doubt South Africa's Dick Mackridge has a soft spot for China not to mention a few Elvis Presley songs, some of which he's adapted to express his love for Shanghai.
"My initial exposure came through an e-mail from officials at our local Chinese Embassy in Johannesburg," says the longtime music promoter. "They asked me if I would like to take some performers to China. I mean - c'mon! I attended a few meetings, arranged some auditions and we were 'A' for away."
That was in 2009, when Mackridge took a team of musicians to the Chengdu Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival. Since then, he's been back for the "magnificent" Shanghai 2010 Expo and later that year in October for the Suzhou and Beijing combined China International Folk Festivals. In 2011 they came to China for the Zhangjiajie International Folk Festival and the Hangzhou World Leisure Expo.
Now Mackridge can't wait to hear about the next opportunity to come to China. "I'll implode if I don't get to China this year," he says, laughing.
"Coming from a Westernized society we were blown away with the culture, the food, the often unruly traffic, the relatively low cost of clothing and similar commodities," he says, reminiscing about time spent walking around in the old shopping areas of Shanghai. "And Old Street (YuYuan Gardens) was a favorite for all of us!"
But his best memories, he says, are undoubtedly interacting with Chinese people and seeing the delight on their faces when they saw South African singing and dancing for the first time.
"We have experienced that wonderful sensation of arriving at Hong Kong and then flying out to our respective festivals five times thus far for six different festivals."