Big cultural event to open with Zhang Guoyong’s baton

Conductor Zhang Guoyong will take the baton at the opening concert of Meet in Beijing Arts Festival. After conducting a concert with Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra at the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires earlier this month, Zhang Guoyong went to watch a tango performance.Although the neighborhood-far from downtown, where he was staying-looked like a regular place, the performance was unusual. Couples in their 80s danced the Argentine tango.Not professional dancers, their moves caught Zhang’s eye.”They danced at a venue which isn’t even a formal theater. They couldn’t raise their legs high or move their feet very fast because they aren’t young. But they showed me what real tango is, which is totally different from a carefully choreographed dance show,” Zhang, 58, tells China Daily.He says he couldn’t help but wonder: what if Chinese musicians worked with the same elderly people.Zhang, the artistic director of the Shanghai Opera House and Qingdao Symphony Orchestra, has collaborated with renowned musicians both at home and abroad.”Such art-related exchange programs link China with the rest of the world,” he says.The conductor’s latest mission is to serve as artistic director for the opening concert of the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, one of China’s largest annual cultural events. Held for the past 15 years, the festival will open on Monday and run through May.With Canada picked as the guest country of honor this year, the opening concert at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing will see Canadian artists and Chinese musicians, including Buzz Brass Quintet, Ottawa Bach Choir and Ensemble Caprice Baroque Orchestra.Under the baton of Zhang, the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra will open the night by performing Chinese composer Bao Yuankai’s Antiphonal of Flowers, adapted from Chinese folk songs.