2012-12-28 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Deutsche Radio Orchestra will perform on January 1, one of a series of New Year's concerts to be staged in Shanghai.
DEMAND in Shanghai is high for concerts and ballet at this time of year and many foreign orchestras take Christmas holiday and come to China. Li Anlan reports on the perennial issue of quality concerts.
To celebrate the holiday season, many people choose concerts and ballet as a fulfilling and fashionable way to relax and lift their spirits.
The end-of-the-year market is booming, demand is high and many foreign companies come to Asia to expand their profits during Christmas holiday when they take a break in their regular performing schedule.
Shanghai has a big performance market, especially for New Year's concerts and classical music. Many tickets are sold to the companies that organize events for their employees and clients.
"For the new year, people are happy and relaxed, and they go to concerts looking for a delightful experience," says Huang Yunjin, dean of the arts administration department at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
In recent years critics have questioned the quality of some performance companies coming to China to cash in on relatively unsophisticated audiences. Some are assembled ad hoc, adopting names similar to those of renowned orchestras, ensembles and ballet companies and calling themselves stars. Strauss companies are not uncommon.
Of course many visiting performance groups are first rate.
Huang advises culture lovers to be careful and educate themselves. The most expensive tickets are not necessarily the best.
"Don't buy tickets because a group is famous. A lot of times you can't tell whether the orchestras are good or bad. Instead, pick the ones you like personally and spend only what you can afford," she says.
Those who are not frequent concert goers should choose the music, composers and conductors that interest them, since they may not easily be able to discern among quality orchestras, she says of those who are new to classical music.
Many promoters and orchestras do not put on high-end tours at this time.
"The real top orchestras and companies in the world are on vacation as well and the best artists are at home resting. If they do perform, it's often in their home cities," Huang says. "Those touring during the end of the year and beginning of the new year are probably not the very best."
The most notable forthcoming musical event will be a concert by the distinguished Chicago Symphony Orchestra on January 31, after the "New Year's concert craziness ends," Huang observes. Richard Muti will conduct at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. The program features Beethoven, Verdi and Mendelssohn.
Muti has conducted some of the world's most important orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic. He has been music director of the Teatro alla Scala in Italy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Tickets have sold out.
The Shanghai Oriental Art Center will stage a series of New Year's concert starting next week.
Deutsche Radio Orchestra will perform on Tuesday, January 1. The Wiener Johann Strauss Walger Orchestra will perform on Wednesday and Thursday.
As with orchestras, it's important to know in advance about ballet companies. Ballet troupes from Russia with words like "state" or "star" in their names aren't usually as good as they sound, but that doesn't mean they are not worth seeing, Huang says.
For example, there are four "Swan Lakes." The ballet of Kiev staged on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Russian State Ballet will perform from Saturday through Monday. The Russia Star Ballet Theater will perform on January 11-12. The Shanghai Ballet will perform on January 18-19.