Nanjing rebirth celebrated in music at Wesley tomorrow

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A SUITE of music to be performed in Canberra tomorrow will remind us of Nanjing — once the ancient capital of China, but now, sadly, better known as the scene of an appalling massacre in 1937 at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Wang Tianzhu, erhu player  and concert master
Wang Tianzhu, erhu player and concert master

The story is the inspiration for “The Nanjing Suite”, a cross-cultural collaboration between Bulli composer Dr Judy Stubbs and musicians from the Nanjing National Chinese Orchestra, proof apparent of the city’s cultural rebirth. Fusing Chinese and Western music, the suite was developed during two study tours to China last year by Dr Stubbs.

“My first visit to China last year was supported by the Chinese Consul General and the Australian and Chinese Governments”, says Dr Stubbs. ‘’I had never written for Chinese traditional instruments and it was a very steep learning curve.”

Virtuosos from the orchestra are coming to Wesley Music Centre in Forrest tomorrow to perform “The Nanjing Suite” with Canberra and Wollongong musicians. The artists include Wang Tianzhu (erhu player  and concert master), Dai Yin (conductor/ percussionist), Rita Woolhouse (cello), Judy Stubbs (piano), Johnny Spillane (Irish whistles) and vocalists Eklektika.

Dr Stubbs has personally sponsored the Chinese musicians to come out to perform in concerts in Wollongong, Sydney and Canberra, and believes she is providing a unique opportunity for Australian audiences to hear them in a work by a local composer in collaboration with Chinese virtuosos.

The music is featured in the soon to be released documentary, “The Dalfram Dispute 1938: Pig Iron Bob” by Why Documentaries, about the relationship between China and Australia in the events leading up to WWII.

“The Nanjing Suite”, which was recorded last year in China, will soon be performed in Nanjing and Shanghai. Dr Stubbs has also been asked to write a special piece for the orchestra, to be performed in China later this year.

“The Nanjing Suite”, at Wesley Music Centre, 7.30 pm, Friday, March 20. Bookings to or 0405 143418, or tickets at the door.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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