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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

Coming Full Circle

So you think Carnegie Hall’s Ancient Paths, Modern Voices festival is over in New York? Not so fast. A number of China-themed gallery exhibitions in Chelsea will remain on view as late as mid-January 2010; in addition, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit Silk and Bamboo: Music and Art of China, a primarily archaeological look at China’s ancient music, runs through February 7.

At Tuesday night’s closing performance, Clive Gillinson hinted that Carnegie Hall and China will be drawn closer together after Ancient Paths, Modern Voices. For audiences in China, the future starts later this month.

On November 21, television audiences in Shanghai will get a taste of Carnegie Hall—and of last year’s festival—as Leonard Bernstein: The Best of all Possible Worlds makes its Chinese broadcast debut as the weekly featured concert on Shanghai Oriental Television’s arts channel. The gala performance, which opened Carnegie Hall’s season last year, features Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony, along with guest artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Thomas Hampson, and Dawn Upshaw.

I discovered this timely coincidence when I called Xie Lixin, the program director for Shanghai’s arts channel, and told him about the strong showing the Shanghai Symphony—his hometown band—made at the festival’s closing night. Although Xie was sorry he couldn’t be in New York, he was very much looking forward to the broadcast. “Bernstein was an iconic figure in popularizing classical music,” he said. “Most people in China know him only as a conductor; few know about his multifaceted career.” Unlike most broadcasts in this time slot, he added, the Bernstein program also features interviews and extra footage from within Carnegie Hall.

“Chinese people know about two great concert halls in the world: Vienna’s Musikverein, and Carnegie Hall,” he added. “It is not so easy for any of us to see inside Carnegie Hall.”

Posted by Ken Smith

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