Enchanting Kunqu tunes featured in CityU’s City Cultural Salon

Ellen Chan

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CityU's Cultural and Sports Committee organised the "City Cultural Salon" on 30 October. Around 40 guests, staff and students came to enjoy and discuss the art of Kunqu. The organiser invited the famous Kunqu performing artist Mr Wang Shiyu, as well as outstanding young Kunqu performers Mr Yu Jiulin and Ms Shen Fengying, to share their experience and perform for the participants.

This "City Cultural Salon" with the theme of "Sharing the Art of Kunqu" was coordinated by Professor Cheng Pei-kai, Director of Chinese Civilisation Centre and the Chairman of the Cultural and Sports Committee. Mr Chung Shui-ming, the Council Chairman, who has always been deeply interested in Kunqu, also participated in the function.

Mr Chung said the art of Kunqu had a long history and was worth promoting to all walks of life. "In May 2001, Kunqu was listed by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as one of the ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'," explained Mr Chung. "So we have a responsibility to promote the art so that more people can appreciate the artistic values of Kunqu."

The famous Kunqu performing artist Mr Wang Shiyu said that since Kunqu was formally accredited as holding cultural heritage status, the mainland leaders had shown great concern about its development and appropriated a sum of RMB50 million annually towards its protection and promotion. He further explained that the art of Kunqu would only be enhanced if Kunqu performances were appreciated by more young people.

"The youth know little about Kunqu. However, since the youthful rendition of the Peony Pavilion was introduced, the younger generation has started to show an interest in Kunqu as well as the acts of Kunqu. So we are now more confident about going deeper into, for example, more experimental fusion of Kunqu acts and other elements, hoping that the art of Kunqu will develop steadily," said Mr Wang.

During the Cultural Salon, the participants, including the famous novelist Louis Cha Leung-yung, expressed their unique points of view on the development of the art of Kunqu and exchanged ideas. Two outstanding young Kunqu artists, Mr Yu Jiulin and Ms Shen Fengying, together with Mr Wang, performed The Jade Hairpin - Seduction with the Lute and Peony Pavilion - Awakening from Dream, winning warm applause from the audience.

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