Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, April 27, 2009

National Center for the Performing Arts 

Went to a concert this evening featuring noted pianist Li Yundi, put on by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs at the new National Center for the Performing Arts. The new center is a fabulous structure designed by a French architect. The mammoth edifice has generated considerable controversy because it contrasts with existing architecture in proximity, such as the Forbidden City and the Great Hall of the People. I think the whole argument is a tempest in a teapot. The Forbidden City could be called traditional Chinese architecture, but the Great Hall of the People certainly isn't. It is Stalinesque architecture. Beijing is a bit of a hodgepodge, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

What may be more of a controversy in years to come is the enormous cost of the thing. It has been estimated that the place cost approximately 500,000 RMB (73,292.29 USD at today's exchange rates) per seat to build. What's more, the maintenance cost is quite high. Hope China's economy rides out the current difficulty so they can afford this luxury.

I'd have to say I am in favor of it. China wants to get beyond the image of an ancient developing nation that is only capable of putting out obscure, arcane art forms like Peking Opera. Not to diminish that at all, but Chinese musicians have shown themselves very capable of producing some of the best of classical works from Europe.

The auditorium we were in was not the main one. And my seat was in a balcony over the stage. When I first got there, I considered trying to secure one of the empty seats down in the main seating area, but I soon realized that I had a unique vantage point. You don't usually get to see the conductor from the front.

The video quality (given that I had no artificial lighting with me) of the video I took is good, I think. But the problem with taking videos like this with a little pocket camera is that the avi file is humongous. It was reduced from 1 GB down to about 75 MB after I ran it through Windows Movie Maker. But I had to get it home first before I could do that. It filled up my card and crashed before the piece was finished. Sorry.

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