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About the Author
Ken Smith currently divides his time between New York (where he writes for Gramophone magazine) and Hong Kong (where he serves as the Asian–performing arts critic for the Financial Times). He is Co–Music Director of the recordings Dong Folk Songs and Miao Music for China's MediaFusion Group, and he won an ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award in 2008 for his liner notes to Gil Shaham's recording of The Butterfly Lovers Concerto for Violin. Ken is also the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!, published in 2008 by Chronicle Books.

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices Blog

The Other Conservatory

Ensemble ACJW/Juilliard

With all the attention being given to the Central Conservatory of Music, Bright Sheng—the only composer on the Ensemble ACJW’s Class of 1978 program to attend the Shanghai Conservatory—was probably feeling a little lonely. That is, until last night.

Sheng, who attended the Ensemble’s performance at Weill Recital Hall (and even gave a short introduction to his Third String Quartet), had an impromptu, smiling reunion before the concert with his classmate Yan Huichang, now the music director of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Yan, who had landed in New York only a few hours earlier, rushed over to Weill Recital Hall as soon as he heard about the composers being featured on the program.

The Shanghai Conservatory, as former students Sheng or Yan will be quick to tell you, is the oldest conservatory in China—founded in 1927 as the National Conservatory and holding that position up until the Central Conservatory of Music was founded in Beijing in 1950. Rivalry between the two has been fierce over the years, but it stops at the professional level. Yan, a longtime friend of composers (and indeed an occasional composer himself) programs Chinese composers almost exclusively, and will even feature Guo Wenjing—a Central Conservatory alumnus featured on the Ensemble’s performance last night—on the HKCO’s own concert on October 30.

Posted by Ken Smith

© 2001-2009 Carnegie Hall Corporation

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