People watch a performance on the central street of Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, Aug. 24, 2019. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)
HARBIN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) — Amateur musicians play violin, saxophone and even Chinese zither alongside professionals in public squares and balconies on Central Street in Harbin, north China’s Heilongjiang Province. east), have become a unique tourist attraction.
“Harbin is famous for its winter scenery, but I marvel at the variety of musical events in this city,” said Xie Yanwen, a tourist from east China’s Jiangsu Province.
The tradition of music is deeply rooted in the history of Harbin, known as China’s “Ice City”. At the Harbin Music Museum, traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu and gehu are played alongside the violin and piano, illustrating the stories of Chinese and Western musicians.
For thousands of years, local ethnic minorities such as Hezhen and Oroqen have cultivated a rich collection of folk songs and dances. In the 20th century, the development of China’s Eastern Railway brought Western music to Harbin.
Since then, a large number of European singers, performers and conductors have settled in Harbin, making it one of the first cities in China to embrace Western classical music. Many prominent Chinese classical musicians were trained in Harbin or were trained by Harbin-trained teachers.
“The convergence of Chinese and Western music has shaped the unique character of Harbin, attracting art connoisseurs from all over the world,” said Miao Di, curator of the Harbin Music Museum.
Harbin has been a hotbed of artists and artistic wonders thanks to its rich musical and cultural heritage. Renowned Chinese theater artists, composers and singers have promoted the city’s incredible art all over the country and around the world.
As the oldest music event in China, the China-Harbin Summer Concert has been held for 35 years. Masterpieces such as “On the Island of the Sun” and “I Love the Snow in the North” have been sung from here for the rest of the world.
“Harbin has a musical heritage that blends East and West. We want to revitalize this tradition and take it to the next level,” said Sha Xiaodong, deputy director of Harbin’s Cultural Dissemination and Tourism Bureau.
In recent years, Harbin has promoted the integration of fine arts and public culture, providing residents with more opportunities to pursue their musical aspirations.
In March 2016, the brand new Harbin Grand Theater opened to the public. The Great Hall, resembling a silver ribbon in the sky with a soothing aesthetic, presented nearly 200 performances in a single year.
In the same year, the Harbin Conservatory of Music was established on the north bank of the Songhua River.
“We have introduced high-quality teaching equipment, built a first-class concert hall, and held many free concerts for the public,” said Li Lei, a teacher at the conservatory.
It is not uncommon to encounter individuals playing the violin, beating African drums or dancing to the music at bus stops and in Harbin’s public squares.
“The general public loves music and has a good taste in music. They are both performers and listeners,” Sha said. ■