Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Revival Begins ...

I saw this piece in the NY Times, and I was absolutely stunned by the beauty and the sense of what might be.

"Music Bridges the Political Divide Between China and Taiwan"

When a Taiwan music ensemble performed its reconstruction of Chinese imperial court music last year in Beijing, it marked not just a cultural milestone, but a political one.

The concert provided a rare opportunity to hear ancient sounds salvaged from a nearly vanished musical tradition. The 3,000-year-old genre known as yayue, or “elegant music,” faded with the collapse of dynastic rule in 1911, and nearly succumbed to the later Maoist assault on “feudalistic” elements of China’s past. [e.g. the Cultural Revolution].

But it was also a chance for people from both sides of the long-divided Taiwan Strait to compare notes on which parts of their joint Chinese heritage have been preserved, or not.

“The audience response was quite strong. Many were hearing this music for the first time,” said Xie Jiaxing, director of the China Conservatory in Beijing, which had invited the Yayue Ensemble of Nanhua University to perform in the capital.

“For political reasons, we haven’t done enough to research yayue,” Mr. Xie said. “Taiwan’s Nanhua University has done a really good job in this respect. Afterwards, our students wrote to the school saying how happy they were to discover such a great treasure in ancient Chinese culture, even though they don’t really understand it.”
I am suffused with joy and pride and a deeply emotional sense of possibility ... despite the horrific harm and damage that it suffered on the Mainland in the 20th century, maybe Chinese culture can make a comeback. Taiwan is a treasury of Traditional Chinese Culture, and now it has a chance to share it with the Mainland.

We have cultural elements that have been preserved and are continuing to be lived all over the Sinic world -- Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, other Overseas Communities in SE Asia. 希望可以讓他傳回中國.

Chen Huei-ying, director-general of the cultural and education affairs department of the Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwan government body in charge of policies toward China, sees benefits. “Cultural exchanges are helpful to peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” he said. “They increase understanding and appreciation for each other and especially feelings people on each side have for one another.”

They are also allowing mainland Chinese visitors to see how their culture evolved on Taiwan, shielded from the Communist campaigns against many traditional practices.

Some folk customs — such as the worship of Mazu, the sea goddess — thrive here in ways they no longer do on the mainland. Chinese temples are seeking help from their Taiwanese counterparts on how to revive Mazu festivals.
These kinds of folk practices and traditional customs, which were discarded or forgotten on the Mainland -- now there's a way they can start to be explored, and maybe become relevant to people's lives again. Because there is meaning there, in the past and in traditions that have been passed down for generations -- an inheritance which we have not only the responsibility, but also the wonderful privilege to explore.

URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/arts/21iht-music.html

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