Beijing Modern Music Festival: Suzhou Chinese Orchestra debuts in capital
The on-going "Beijing Modern Music Festival" saw a rising force on Monday evening, as the Suzhou Chinese Orchestra staged a concert for the first time in the capital. The 6-month-old Suzhou Chinese Orchestra presented a broad repertoire extending from the Chinese folk creations to the latest avant-garde of western works. Sun Wei reports. 
Two of the five pieces in the program notes were created by western musicians especially for a Chinese orchestra. They brought a fresh contemporary sound, unbound by the form of symphony.
The opening "Remote Heart" was composed by Jiri Kaderabek, a renowned musician born in Eastern Moravia. The two-part work was inspired by the old Chinese poem "Drinking Wine" by Tao Yuan-ming. It illustrates the poem's theme of rural life and adopts the idea of "House" as a central metaphor for self as well as the universe.
The orchestra performed with a great deal of improvisations and playful banter, reminiscent of cubist paintings by Picasso.
Pang Kapang, who's at the helm as chief conductor and artistic director of the orchestra, said to present such a modern music work is not easy, and the audience's listening habits should somehow be reshaped.
PANG KAPANG, CONDUCTOR/ARTISTIC DIRECTOR SUZHOU CHINESE ORCHESTRA "The modern music gave musicians much more freedom to improvise. The compositions are more open and complex, full of changing forms. For a conductor, it's a great challenge. Sometimes I found my two hands were not enough. I had to drop the baton and use the fingers. The audience might think the music strange. To appreciate modern music, they should not just sit there listening, but fully awaken their imaginations."
The mastermind behind the Beijing Modern Music Festival, Ye Xiaogang, said the orchestra has brought a "surprise" to the event.
YE XIAOGANG, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR BEIJING MODERN MUSIC FESTIVAL "For the first time, our festival has a Chinese Orchestra playing works by foreign composers. It's one of the highlights at the festival and the show tonight really surprised us. They're so different from traditional Chinese music."
"Zhuang Zhou's Dream" by Zhao Jiping has adopted the form of concerto for cello and Chinese traditional orchestra. It expresses the philosophical concept of Master Zhuang Zhou that seeks the literary charm of principle.
The orchestra drew out a version with great precision.
The Pipa Concerto "A Long Song",  as the motif of the concert, was created in 2016 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Long March of the Red Army. By using contemporary composition techniques and the unique Pipa playing, the work shows the hardship and danger that people of the period endured.
PANG KAPANG, CONDUCTOR/ARTISTIC DIRECTOR SUZHOU CHINESE ORCHESTRA "The growth of the Suzhou Chinese Orchestra is beyond my expectation. The performances have reached the level that I hoped for when the orchestra would be one year old. These should be attributed to the devotion of our musicians. We practiced almost every day instead of just rehearsing before shows."
Established in December 2017, the 90-member Suzhou Chinese Orchestra is a non-profit art group co-sponsored by the Suzhou Municipal Government and Suzhou New and High-tech District.
SUN WEI BEIJING "Conductor Pang Kapang hopes that he could lead the group further onto the world arena. The success here tonight is surely a step forward in that direction."
Sun Wei, CGTN, Beijing.