Along the Silk Road – Orchestra of Beijing Dongzhimen High School

Stockbridge Church

August 10th

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Nestled in the leafy neck of the woods of Stockbridge, the 200 year old Georgian Stockbridge church (Venue 317) provides an open, light, and very friendly welcome to people of all ages and backgrounds.  The church is a  regular concert venue and the staff are most supportive of the community.

 I was lucky enough to catch the (enormous) Orchestra of Beijing Dongzhimen High School there today, showcasing a colourful slice of their repertoire. 

The orchestra rehearses twice a week at school, although the school does not specialise in music. The kids range in age from about 12 – 17 and all of them enthusiastically played their instruments under the watchful eye of their conductor, who guided the students deftly.

Looking smart in their coordinated black-tie suits and silk dresses, pleasingly encrusted with gems; the students behaved professionally, with some showing real technical agility.  The wind was off-key occasionally, the brass, a bit dodgy; but none of that really mattered here since the whole event was really a lesson in youthful ambition and togetherness.

The first piece ‘Good news from Beijing to Border villages’ gave the programme a cracking start, then came two orchestral Berlioz pieces from Damnation de Faust, interspersed with a cheerful ‘Dance of the Yao people’. The programme included Britten, Beethoven and even Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, delivered with earnest commitment which was eagerly received; and they went on to give two encores.

This concert was about experience and the future.  What an amazing thing it must be for those students to come and perform in Edinburgh, so far from their home.  It’s pretty thrilling to watch as they bring their hard work to fruition. They should be very proud of their achievements.

Reviewer : Monica Sutcliffe

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