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ISLAMABAD: A Chinese ensemble from Jinan city gave an enchanting performance at the ‘Song on Spring’ concert held at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) late Saturday evening.

The event, which featured unique folk and classical music from the eastern Shandong province, was organised by the Chinese embassy in collaboration with the China Cultural Centre and the Network of International Culturalink Entities. Senator Faisal Javed Khan, who was the chief guest, arrived a bit late.

The auditorium was packed to capacity, mostly by the Chinese diaspora living in the capital city.

The ensemble from ‘Jinan Opera and Dance Drama Theater’, one of the most popular Chinese national ensembles, mesmerised the audience with its solo and ensemble instrumental performances and songs.

Jinan, the capital of Shandong, is known as the ‘city of water springs’. It has 72 springs, willows, lakes and mountains and has been declared a cultural city, said Zhou Haifeng, who hosted the event, speaking fluent English.The 10-member ensemble comprised Liu Lizhuang, Juan Juan, Zhang Xian, Zhang Benlin, Wang Shuai, Li Chengchemg, Luo Shuyun, MengXiaoyu, Wang Ziyue, Gao Fei and Gao Jin.

“They have come to share their art and folk with the people of Islamabad,” Ms Zhou added.

The performances were enhanced with multimedia video clippings and English subtitles in the backdrop.

In recent years, the group has visited various parts of the world to spread China’s outstanding national music.

It has re-arranged and created musical works, demonstrating and performing them by on different Chinese musical instruments.

In the classical music segment, the ensemble played Jubilant, Step by Step, Beautiful Flowers and Full Moon, Bao Lun Tune and Happy Smiles, earning applause from the audience.To the pleasant surprise of the audience, the artists played the famous Pakistani national song

Sohni Dharti Allah Rakhe.

The tall and dazzling singer, Gao Dexia, sang a famous folk song Yimeng Mountain Minor, spellbinding the audience. In the solo segment, Li Chengcheng performed on the bamboo flute, playing the Chun chun song which is a dialogue between flute and spring. It was followed by a performance by Zhang Benlinof who played Water Lotus on Guzheng, a musical instrument. Liu Lizhuang performed The Guangde Basalt on the two-string Erhu.

Gao Jin, another member of the ensemble, had an interesting interaction with the audience, demonstrating a technique of playing percussion music through clapping.

The husband-wife duo, Wang Shuai and Gao Fei, performed Perfect which was followed by a performance by singer Zhang Dawei, who sang Lovely Rose.

In the last segment of the event, the ensemble performed some new folk songs including The Miracle of Spring, which depicted Jinan city’s environs and culture.The last performance was a dazzling folk song of Shandong which left the audience in a trance.

Cultural Counsellor You Yin, in his welcome address, spoke about the traditional Chinese ensemble and Jinan city known for its water springs.

He said in the process of building ‘One Belt and One Road’ project and specifically China Pakistan Economic Corridor, cultural ties between the two countries would be strengthened.

PNCA Director General Jamal Shah also thanked the Chinese embassy and the cultural counsellor for the continued support in promoting the rich cultural heritage of the two countries.

He said: “Music has the power to transport you instantly from one season to another.”

This music on spring actually can be interpreted in many ways alongside water spring or season.

Mr Shah announced that the second CPEC Cultural Caravan would be organised in 2019.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2018