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East meets West at Chinese violinist's 35th anniversary concert in Australia
Last Updated: 2015-07-08 09:20 | Xinhua
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The world-renowned violinist Sheng Zhongguo, who has been called "the Chinese Yehudi Menuhin," held two concerto concerts on July 3-4 in Melbourne after his first performance tour to Australia 35 years ago.

The Timeless Melody concert was performed by Sheng and his wife Hiroko Seta, a highly regarded Japanese pianist, to bestow on both the local and the Chinese-Australian audience the beauty of a seamless integration of Eastern and Western music.

Sheng, 74, was invited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia in 1980 as the first Chinese solo artist to perform for Australian audience. His consummate skill and attractive personality impressed Australians in five cities, which made the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) list him as "one of the world's greatest artists."

"That honor has been given to me not only as a violinist, but as a Chinese national who plays a Western instrument. I was proud that I could reach the hearts of local audiences 35 years ago as an Eastern musician, and I hope I could do the same thing this time," said Sheng.

He believed that apart from the economic connectivity, cultural communication and cooperation could make the bond between two countries even tighter.

"Eighty percent of the audience were local Australians when I was here 35 years ago, but this time I saw many more Chinese- Australians in the cities and at my concerts and the cultural fusion really excited me," said the violinist at the Master Talk, which was held in the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne.

"We have not only developed quickly in the economic field, but have flourished with cultural accomplishments. Only cultural communication and understanding can help others understand our peaceful development better and deeper," the master said.

According to Sheng, the repertoire he performed in the concert has been divided into two parts. All of the first part were famous pieces worldwide, which served to showcase the skill of a Chinese artist to the Western audience, and the second consisted of renowned Chinese folk music, which aimed to help them feel the charm of Chinese music.

As one of the most well-known performers of the Butterfly Lovers, Sheng introduced the Oriental Romeo and Juliet to the world. "This song represents the top level of Chinese folk music played with a Western instrument. People around the world could understand the sadness and beauty behind the music without any words," he said.

However, Sheng also emphasized the importance of creativity in music. He regarded the notion of the Chinese Dream as a catalyst to encourage young Chinese musicians to focus on self-promotion. " Our young classic musicians have more chances to share the experience with the top-level masters around the world. I think the tendency would keep growing," Sheng said.

Both the Master Talk and the concerts attracted more audience than the sponsors could imagine. The tickets for the concerts were sold out within two weeks. "We thought that around 200 to 300 people would attend the Master Talk before, but actually more than 400 people crowded into the lecture theater for the presentation," said Cao Yang, former Chinese advisor for the Premier of Victoria State and sponsor of these concerts.

Huang Guobin, the Chinese deputy consul-general in Melbourne, and He Ta, the cultural consul of Chinese Consulate in Melbourne, reminisced about the feeling they had when they heard the Butterfly Lovers. "I always burst into tears," said He.

Local audience were also touched when they heard the melody. "I almost lost myself in his performance. His fingers are dancing on the strings to make the music really touching," Veronica White, a 46-year-old teacher, told Xinhua.

Besides the traditional, renowned pieces, Sheng also chose the Blue Evening written by Australian composer Alfred Hill. "That piece I played 35 years ago was introduced by ABC. I hope we could have stronger cooperation with the Australian composers and musicians to boost the growth of classical music together," Sheng said.

Cao Yuhan, a 14-year-old Chinese-Australian boy who is also playing violin, said he was overjoyed by the incredible performance. "He is a god-like master to me. I cannot help staring at his agile fingers which look like they're playing magic," the young violinist said.

"It has been the 34th year since the China-Australia bilateral Agreement on Cultural Cooperation was established in 1981. I hope we could create more new pieces of Chinese folk music to help the Western people known more about modern China," Sheng said.

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