Chinese, French musicians present virtual concert to mark solidarity in fighting COVID-19
Hong Yaobin

Chinese and French musicians joined hands to present a virtual folk music concert on June 21 to celebrate solidarity in fighting the novel coronavirus as France's annual midsummer musical celebrations unfolded nationwide despite many on-site concerts being canceled amid the health crisis this year.

The online concert, titled "Poetic Fragrance from China: Traditional Chinese Music Concert," was livestreamed to global audiences in Chinese, French and English on multiple video apps and social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Bilibili and CCTV News, at 9 p.m. BJT (3 p.m. in France).

It featured numerous classic Chinese and French folk songs enjoying great popularity in the two nations, such as famous Peking Opera piece "Deep Night" and folk renditions of French classics "La Vie en Rose" and "Les Champs-Elysees," which were performed with Chinese folk musical instruments.

The initiative brought artists at home and abroad onto the same stage, aiming to showcase the unique cultural landscapes and let audiences savor the charms of Chinese and French arts while sending out prayers for a victory against COVID-19 and wishes for the safety and happiness of the people.

Culture is vital to boost cooperation

Poster for the concert /Photo via China Cultural Center in Paris

Poster for the concert /Photo via China Cultural Center in Paris

The online event was co-hosted by the China Cultural Center in Paris and the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater, with the efforts of Chinese artists in France and students at the center.

Before the Sunday concert began, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said "xiexie" ("thank you" in Chinese) to artists who helped make the concert possible and to those who helped nurture the cultural relationship between China and France.

"Culture plays a vital role in the promotion of the cooperative spirit in global development," he said.

"Music is a celebration, and culture is friendship."

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French prime minister, delivers an opening speech. /Screenshot via YouTube

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French prime minister, delivers an opening speech. /Screenshot via YouTube

As one of the highlights of France's 39th Music Festival, the virtual show was also strongly supported by the organizers and launched as this year's main program.

France honors Music Day, also known as Fête de la Musique, on June 21, when musical celebrations take place nationwide all day long. It later became an international phenomenon and is celebrated in some 120 countries around the world.

'United, we will win'

Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye delivered an opening speech at the show, noting that China and France have shared weal and woe, worked closely with each other and jointly pushed forward international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

More than 300 French artists and other cultural workers jointly issued a public letter in Chinese and French to express support for the Chinese. /Photos via The Art Newspaper

More than 300 French artists and other cultural workers jointly issued a public letter in Chinese and French to express support for the Chinese. /Photos via The Art Newspaper

"As the saying 'Unis, nous vaincrons' (United, we will win) goes, China and France have penned a new chapter in friendship," said the ambassador.

Lu pointed out that this unprecedented pandemic once again proves humans share a common future: "Only if countries around the world work together can we build a better and more beautiful world."

Noting that COVID-19 has "forced us to distance ourselves from others and confine ourselves up," Raffarin also stressed that the global challenge "can only be conquered through cooperation."

Players of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club wore jerseys with "Stay Strong China" printed on them to show their support. /Photo via Weibo

Players of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club wore jerseys with "Stay Strong China" printed on them to show their support. /Photo via Weibo

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, many renowned artists and cultural figures in France have showed their support for China's fight against the pandemic, the Chinese Embassy in France said in a previous statement, adding that when France was hit by the virus, the Chinese side also provided assistance in delivering medical supplies to France.

Several months earlier, more than 300 French artists and other cultural workers jointly issued a public letter in Chinese and French to express support for the Chinese, which was published by the industry magazine The Art Newspaper on February 22. 

Some 40 theater performing artists lent their voices to the collaborative song "Together," and players of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club wore jerseys with "Stay Strong China" printed on them to show their support.

(Cover: Poster for the livestreamed concert. /Screenshot via YouTube)