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Music in China

Beijing Opera
Beijing Opera
Tang Dynasty Show
Member of the Naxi Orchestra

As with many aspects of their life the Chinese have developed a unique musical heritage. Although fewer people these days are taking up the old musical disciplines, luckily, a number of troupes, orchestras and cultural groups have managed to keep the classical musical tradition alive. Here are a few of the performances that we recommend if you are in town!

Beijing Opera

It is generally accepted that Beijing opera gradually came into being around 1790 when the famous four Anhui opera troupes first visited Beijing. Beijing opera was developed during the reign of Emperor Qianlong and the notorious Empress Dowager Cixi. Under imperial patron Beijing opera assumed its role as the national opera of China and eventually became more accessible to the common people.

Beijing Opera offers the audience a wondeful mix of stories, singing, exquisite costumes, graceful gestures and acrobatic fighting. Since it enjoys a higher reputation than other local operas, almost every province of China has more than one Beijing Opera troupe. This kind of opera is very popular among Chinese people, especially the older generation.

The most highly regarded shows are to be found in Beijing itself and we can arrange for you to see a performance whilst there.

Tang Dynasty Show

The Tang Dynasty Show is a performance of Chang'an music and dance which originated during the Tang Dynasty, over a thousand years ago. The show has been put together with careful reference to historical records, ancient art and relics discovered in Xian, which was the capital during the Tang dynasty. The show is performed by the Tang Dynasty Song & Dance Troupe, takes place in Xian and aims to reflect the cultural glory and richness of the Tang Dynasty era. You can also enjoy dinner during the show.

Naxi Orchestra

While in Lijiang, make sure you catch the incredible Naxi Orchestra. Using antique instruments, the performers are the last musicians in China playing Song tunes derived from the Taoist Dong Jin scriptures. The tradition apparently arrived in Lijiang with Kublai Khan, who donated half his court orchestra to the town after the Naxi chieftain helped his army cross the Yangtze River, and it remained in vogue here long after being forgotten in the rest of the country. Banned from performing for many years, the orchestra regrouped after the Cultural Revolution under the guidance of Xuan Ke, though the deaths of many older musicians have reduced their repertoire from over 60 to just 23 pieces.

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