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Monday, December 09, 2019, 10:55
Stars line up at Decca bash
By Chen Nan
Monday, December 09, 2019, 10:55 By Chen Nan

NCPA celebrates 90 years of iconic British record company and marks China's role in its renaissance, Chen Nan reports.

Decca Records celebrates its 90th anniversary in China with a special event at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Wednesday. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

This year sees one of the most iconic record labels in the world, Decca Records, turn 90 years old. While celebrating its anniversary worldwide, it also held a special event in China at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Wednesday.

The British record label, which was established in 1929 and is owned by Universal Music Group, is home to many legendary musicians from a variety of different musical genres, such as the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli.

During the event at the NCPA, two Decca Records artists, classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic and saxophonist Jess Gillam, performed with Chinese musicians, including jazz pianist Luo Ning.

The 36-year-old Karadaglic, who joined Decca Records as an artist in 2010, performed with a Chinese string quintet featuring a selection of pieces from his latest album, Sound of Silence, featuring music from the US folk-rock duo Simon &Garfunkel and the iconic British rock band The Beatles.

The 21-year-old British saxophonist Gillam played music from her debut recording, Rise, which includes such pieces as Darius Milhaud's Brazileira, Pedro Iturralde's Pequena Czarda and Where Are We Now? by legendary singer-songwriter Bowie.

"My dream is to popularize my musical instrument and to show people how versatile it is. I achieved the dream by releasing the album, Sound of Silence, with Decca Records, in which I performed meditative solo guitar works alongside a selection of pop and jazz hits," says Karadaglic, who released the album after suffering a major hand injury.

Chinese bel canto group Super Vocal. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Born in Montenegro, he began playing classical guitar at the age of 8 and quickly won national recognition for his live performances. He was awarded a scholarship to London's Royal Academy of Music at the age of 16. He performed in China five years ago in Beijing and Shanghai. In May, he will return to give a recital at the NCPA.

"This 90-year-old label is experiencing a phenomenal new lease of life. Helping young musicians to reach their full potential is the key idea behind the label. By discovering and introducing young talent from around the world, the label stays vibrant and alive," says Mark Wilkinson, senior vice-president of Universal Music Global Classics & Jazz, at the NCPA. "There's an exciting music scene here in China, so we would like to present young Chinese musicians to audiences."

During the event, Universal Music China unveiled their latest signing, Super Vocal, a male vocal ensemble, who rose to fame with the Hunan Satellite TV Station's reality show of the same name in 2018.

The quartet of young Chinese singers-Cai Chengyu, Tong Zhuo, Gao Tianhe and Ju Hongchuan-showcased their bel canto techniques with performances of two classics, Nessun Dorma and O sole mio, as well as the Chinese pop song, Night, Night & Night, and Into the Unknown from the Disney animation Frozen II.

(Form left) Saxophonist Jess Gillam. The musicians performed at the NCPA event; Classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

"The reality show has developed China's first male bel canto group. We are excited to see how audiences learn about and appreciate classical music," says Wilkinson.

"The first Western tenor I heard was Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, and he soon became my idol," says Cai, 21, who is a student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. "He didn't just perform operatic pieces, but also teamed up with pop bands like the Spice Girls and U2. I want to sing like him in a versatile voice."

Wilkinson announced the release of the documentary Pavarotti, the latest film from Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, which pays tribute to the tenor and recounts his talent and charisma.

The film will be released in China next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Italy.

In an excerpt from the documentary, the audience watched, at NCPA's event, a scene depicting the tenor's love of music and food, and for China.

In 1986, Pavarotti made his first trip to China to present Giacomo Puccini's opera, La Boheme, conduct master classes and perform concerts-and was the first prominent Western tenor to perform in China. The documentary portrays scenes of the tenor riding a bicycle across Tian'anmen Square and teaching Chinese tenors how to sing. He returned to China in 2001 and 2005 and deepened his friendship with the country and its audiences.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn


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