Music Bridging Cultural Gaps

754 Words4 Pages
Music Bridging Cultural Gaps In Hong Kong people look down on those from 'the mainland'.

Historically the Cantonese have been inclined to assume mainlanders

are coarse, ill educated and tactless; this unfair stereotyping

continues to this day. Still, despite the pianist's mainland-Chinese

background, the Cultural Centre was packed for his concert. He was the

youngest gold medallist in the history of the Chopin International

Piano Competition, and this was enough to intrigue Hong Kong

audiences. I watched him and the Philharmonic live on television.

At the start of the concert the pianist walked into the room to a

smattering of polite applause. He gave a quick bow, flashing the

yellowed teeth so often associated with mainlanders. His long hair had

been slicked back with gel and his face powdered white. He shifted the

piano bench slightly with his hands before sitting down.

The violins began the concerto, bowing with heavy sforzando. The oboes

joined the violins, crooning sadly, and then the flutes

flutter-tongued in the upper register. The full orchestra, in all its

grandeur, sang. Chopin's Concerto no. 1 in E minor resonated in the

concert hall, reverberating off the walls. Chopin was a Romantic, and

Romantic music is by definition very emotional and expressive.

He sat quietly and listened to them, nodding in time. He used no

music: he had memorized the whole of the forty-minute concerto.

Gradually the orchestra approached the climax of the piece; his

shoulders tensed and he flexed his fingers. Right before the zenith,

they paused. Then he started to play.

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...c far sweeter and rarer than many had ever heard before, except

perhaps in the time of Frédéric Chopin himself. The concert hall fell

silent as everyone listened.

The third and final movement ended, and the soloist rose and bowed.

The applause was deafening. Without a doubt, here, truly, was a

master. During a forty-minute concerto he had trapped his listeners'

fancy and kept them from drifting. The 'unrefined mainlander' tag had

been peeled away to reveal an exceptionally gifted performer.

Perhaps the concert showed people how untrue and unjust such

stereotyping is. Perhaps it did not. Either way, for certain, the

pianist showed his audience how music could bridge cultural gaps. He

showed his audience how music could remove one from the cares of this

turbulent world. He showed his audience the beauty of the music.
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