Tuesday, 4 October 2011

On Song

Is it possible to fall in love with a voice? If it is then I think I have done so, especially as this voice emanates from the vocal chords of famous Chinese singer Song Zuying.

I have always believed that the greatest music expresses the mood, time and place from whence it comes; the raw gritty power of the blues from the black south, the moody classics from the Russian steppes and Scandinavia or the Mersey Beat which became the symbol for a generation free from the constraints of post-war concerns.

Light or Classical Opera are not amongst my favourite musical forms; in general I find them too highbrow for my liking.  Voices such as Pavarotti's have the ability to transcend such preconceptions and in Song Zuying I have found another who can impart true emotion.

How did I chance upon her?  Our local television has two Chinese language channels and tiring of the Rugby World Cup menu that is dominating our media, I switched over to one of them.  On screen was Ms Song's concert in Taiwan which had been staged in the Taipei Arena on May 7, 2011.

The Diva also moves in political circles according to the media release as she was a representative to National People's Congress, China's legislature, and now is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the NPC's advisory body.

Clearly a lady of influence, she is also a non-combatant Rear Admiral in the Chinese Navy through here association with the Chinese People's Liberation Army Naval Song and Dance Troupe. It is also widely rumoured that Song was at one time the favourite mistress of Jiang Zemin.

But first and foremost she can sing with the voice of an angel, be it classical Chinese classics, popular ballads or the Mountain songs so beloved by many Chinese.  She is highly regarded as a singer of Chinese folk songs and is a descendant of  the Miao, one of China's 55 officially recognised minorities groups,  whose singing and dancing talents are well known.

Her supporting acts of popular Taiwanese male singers, such as Jay Chou, simply weren't in the same class and they knew it. Chou is a fine musician but his voice is weak by comparison.

According to her biography Song Zuying  was born in a place regarded as the most romantic and legendary in China.   Wulingyuan in the western Hu’nan has been eulogized by many poets in Chinese history for its scenic beauty, birth of outstanding talent and the beautiful women born there. It is also an area of China regarded as the living place of the immortals.

Song Zuying, Plácido Domingo: "Love Song of Kangding" with Lang Lang at piano (2009)

The Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra and hundreds of highly skilled dancers, singers and supportive artists from mainland China made this a memorable concert for those of us viewing it on a television screen, half a world away from Taipei.
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