CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (2/6/2019 Wed.)


Podcast: Story in the Story (2/6/2019 Wed.)

People's Daily app

01:53, February 06, 2019


From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

The New Year concert market has exploded in China. Tickets for New Year concerts featuring Italy's top children's choir sold out in 41 seconds and insiders say China's performing arts market will become the world's largest. 

The market is chaotic though, as 10 Vienna orchestras held concerts in Beijing during the New Year period. 

In the three days of the New Year holiday, the Piccolo Coro dell'Antoniano, or the Little Choir of Antoniano, gave six concerts at the Shanghai Children's Art Theatre (SHCAT), followed by another two at Jiangsu Center for the Performing Arts. 

It was the fourth year in a row that the children's choir sang in the New Year in Shanghai. After four years of promotion in China, the Piccolo Coro's New Year concerts have become one of the most popular shows in the market. 

Today's story in the story looks at why there are calls for the performing arts industry to address the chaotic market even though it is booming.

The Piccolo Coro dell'Antoniano performs during a concert in Shanghai on December 30, 2018. (Photo: GT)

The Piccolo Coro, based in Bologna, is the most famous children's choir in Italy. It was established in 1963 and was named a Good Will Ambassador for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund in 2003. 

"I really enjoyed the concert, even though most songs were in Italian," Li Chenlin, a Beijing mother said after a concert in Shanghai. Li brought her 2-year-old daughter and 6-year-old nephew all the way there just for the concert. "I think I will attend next year as well." 

The fan frenzy over the Italian choir reflects the prosperity of China's performing arts market, which grew to around 48.9 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) in 2017. 

The rapidly growing market has attracted a number of foreign arts groups seeking a larger audience and big fortunes, especially around New Year. 

However, the market is also in a mess - in one week, more than 10 orchestras with "Vienna" in their names held concerts in the capital city. 

"It was more like a noisy tea party than a real concert," said a Beijinger surnamed Chen who attended one of the "Vienna" concerts during the New Year holiday. 

"You'd better google before you buy tickets," Helene Zhang, a performing arts industry insider said. "But it is difficult to put regulations on the market." 

This year, the program of the Piccolo Coro dell'Antoniano included songs about Wolfgang Mozart, a nerdy otaku spider and a vegetarian zombie. They also performed "Funiculi Funicula," an Italian folk song often sung by Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, and "Una vita in vacanza," a pop song calling on office workers to take a break. 

The most classic was "What does the crocodile say?" a well-known song in Italy. For the Chinese audience, mimicking the sounds of animals was a lot of fun. 

"Their music is so magical that you fall in love with it without knowing it," Tian Yao, 22, from Shanghai said. "It has been the happiest day of my life to see them in concert," added Li Yan, 19, from Shaanxi Province. 

"Their music is for people of all ages. Also, at different ages you have a different understanding when listening to them," said Wu Han, an 18-year-old freshman at a university in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

Sabrina Simoni (left), the director of the Piccolo Coro, with a Chinese girl in a rehearsal for a Shanghai concert (Photo: GT) 

However, not all New Year performances have left audiences satisfied. Chen, the concertgoer in Beijing, still feels she was deceived. 

The concert she attended, the New Year concert of the Sound of Spring orchestra from Vienna, was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The stage was temporary. The organizer put out some chairs for the audience. 

"Many audience members stood up to take videos with their phones and they talked and walked around," Chen said. 

"I was angry," she continued, describing the atmosphere as that of a "tea party." Chen paid 3,120 yuan for four tickets. 

"Only my parents were happy, because they could visit the Great Hall of the People," she said. 

"The New Year concert in Vienna is well known, so the public would love to hear a performance by a group with 'Vienna' in its name," said Helene Zhang, the performing arts industry insider. "But there are more low-level musicians in Vienna than stray cats in Beijing!" 

"The regulation on foreign art groups entering the Chinese market needs to be improved in the future," said Li Xinyu, an analyst in the performing arts industry. 

He said that even though Chinese audiences are becoming more knowledgeable, it is still not enough. Meanwhile, China should foster young domestic artists. "Only by working on both audience and performing groups can we fix the chaotic performing arts market," he said. 

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe, and Da Hang. Music by: Text from Global Times.)

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