King's College choir releases songs in Chinese for first time

Updated 2018-01-27 11:55:02 Xinhua

The choir of King's College, Cambridge on Friday released its new album containing songs in Chinese for the first time.

This album contains 19 songs; two of them performed in Mandarin Chinese.

Namely, they are Second Farewell to Cambridge, originally a poem written by Chinese poet and King's alumni Xu Zhimo, an early 20th-century famous Chinese poet Xu Zhimo, and Jasmine Flower, a Chinese folk song.

This is the first time that King's College Choir has released and recorded songs in Chinese throughout its 500-year history.

The track listing of this album has been carefully selected to best represent the nearly 100-year-old bond that King's College shares with China.

Both the name of the album and its lead song, Second Farewell to Cambridge, originated from late poet Xu Zhimo, celebrated the legacy of Zhimo's poem.

The young poet studied at King's College from 1921 to 1922 and wrote this poem in 1928 when he revisited King's. It paints an idyllic portrait of King's, and it is now a compulsory text on Chinese literature syllabuses, learnt by millions of school children across the country every year. It has also attracted numerous Chinese tourists to visit Cambridge, and in particular King's College.

While Second Farewell to Cambridge has already been adapted into many pop songs, this release marks its first mainstream classical interpretation, and a new arrangement by acclaimed English composer John Rutter opens this album.

Elsewhere, the Choir displays their impressively accurate Chinese pronunciation in Stephen Cleobury's new arrangement of the 18th century folk song Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower Song).

Moreover, the cover image of this album, the Chinese Jasmine flower is painted by Yu Hui, a well-known Chinese Painting artist from Jiangsu province in east China, who specializes in flowers and birds.

The choir of King's College is planning to host some events later this year to mark the new album, including an event during the annual Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art festival at King's in the summer of 2018.

Whilst the festival takes place, King's College will also host a small opening ceremony to announce the establishment of the "Xu Zhimo Friendship Garden" in the college which will be the first Chinese garden, built in the University of Cambridge.

In addition, the choir will be launching social media accounts on Chinese platforms at the same time as the CD release, to communicate with Chinese audiences.

The choir of King's College, Cambridge, composed of 16 male students studying at King's and 16 choristers from the nearby King's College School, is one of the most accomplished and renowned in the world. Every year on Christmas Eve, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast from the chapel to millions of listeners worldwide

In this new album, apart from the two songs mentioned above, it also includes popular classics by Mozart, Faure and Durufle. The album is rounded off with the ever-popular King's Men, singing a more contemporary collection of a cappella music. A selection of famous festive pieces is also featured, which the choir performed to the delight of audiences during their most recent tour to China.

King's College was founded in 1441 by Henry VI. It is one of the oldest colleges in Cambridge.

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