A professional orchestra made its debut in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou on Sunday, aiming to become world class with Chinese characteristics.
This vision is embodied in the orchestra's artistic direction, which embraces both western symphony and Chinese folk music, and its mission to spread traditional Suzhou culture and Chinese musical styles to the world.
Co-founded by the Suzhou city government and the city's New and High-tech District, the orchestra is a non-profit art group, with the renowned Pang Kapang at the helm as conductor and artistic director.
The orchestra currently consists of over 90 performers from home and abroad, many of them graduates from China's top conservatories.
Zhu Xihong, the director of the publicity department for the district, said that the city of Suzhou is historically rich as well as modern and vibrant, so the Suzhou Chinese Orchestra has strong foundations and a promising future.
Pang Kapang took to the conductor's podium for the orchestra's first show on Monday evening at the Suzhou Culture and Art Center.
The concert opened with the "Celebration Prelude" composed by Zhao Jiping in a resounding combination of folk music instruments and violins.
The fusion tour de force came as the orchestra rendered the traditional Kunqu opera "Peony Pavilion – Touring the Garden", bringing together music genres thousands of years apart.
Featuring east China's folk music style, "Suzhou Impressions" by Liu Xijin was another highlight.
Conductor Pang hoped that he could lead the group further onto the world arena, saying that the orchestra is one of his dreams come true.
It's the second such orchestra after the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Pang, satisfied with the day's concert, said, "It proves that our composers are world class, our performers and conductors are world class," adding that he is also confident their music can represent China on the international stage.
The Suzhou Chinese Orchestra will kick off a road show in a number of cities, including Shanghai and Nanjing, with concerts that combine traditional classics and popular contemporary pieces.