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When Liang Guyin spent 18 months' salary on tuition, to learn an episode of the play Peony Pavilion, she could never have foreseen that half a century later, she would still be performing the play. It was the summer of 1976, and Liang was a hardworking young actress with more than a decade of training in Kunqu Opera, an ancient local art form of southern China. Decades earlier, the play Peony Pavilion had been banned, because the love story between a man and a female spirit was unacceptable in the political environment back then. Peony Pavilion represented the ultimate climax of Kunqu Opera, and she was determined to learn all of it even though she might never have been able to present it on stage.
To attain her dream, she was then introduced to Yao Chuanxiang, a maestro of Kunqu Opera, and wanted to learn from him a particular episode of Peony Pavilion. In order to convince the maestro, who was known for his reluctance to teach, as well as to prove her determination and sincerity, Liang offered Yao an envelope containing 1,000 yuan ($154), which amounted to her total salary of a year and a half at the time. Now, Liang, 74, will join her colleagues from the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe to perform the play as part of an international tour of four classical plays known as Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall by Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), the celebrated playwright of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). She will be the lead actress for Peony Pavilion, which is by far the most recognized play of the Four Dreams performance. Starting on Sunday, the tour will cover 11 cities in China, as well as Prague and New York. The project has brought together generations of Kunqu Opera artists - from Liang and fellow artists in their 70s to younger talent.
Artists such as Shen Yili and Li An, who will be performing The Purple Hairpin, another operatic piece, are in the "golden years" of their artistic careers, says Yue Meiti, an artist in her 70s. Reviving the other three plays - A Dream under the Southern Bough, The Handan Dream and The Purple Hairpin-took a great deal of effort by the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe. So, as China marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, along with the rest of the world, cultural experts here are grumbling that less attention is being paid to Tang.
His question gets its answer in the views of Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of Shanghai Grand Theater, who says: "It has to do with the dominance of English culture internationally. The Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe's endeavor is a major step to introduce Tang's masterpieces to the public. For almost 300 years, Kunqu Opera, known for its grace, beauty and delicacy, dominated the country's theater scene, until Peking Opera, which shares common roots with Kunqu and combines influences from a variety of folk music and theatrical arts, took over in the late 1800s.
Tang's plays are still widely adapted today for different folk opera styles in China, yet Peony Pavilion, which remains the best known of them, is mostly staged in Kunqu. Liu Mengmei, a poor young scholar, and Du Liniang, the daughter of a high-ranking official, share the dream of meeting and falling in love under a tree, despite the fact that they've never met. The work, which debuted in December 1962 by Stuttgart Ballet, is arguably the best dance treatment of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev's celebrated ballet score. When NBC's former president Zhao Ruheng visited Stuttgart Ballet in early 2006 to discuss staging the work in Beijing, Reid Anderson, its artistic director, was hesitant. Anderson also sent Stuttgart Ballet's principal dancer Friedemann Vogel to perform as Romeo with NBC's principal ballerina Zhu Yan as Juliet for the premiere. He also says every time he returns to China, both Shanghai and Beijing seem changed but the dancers and the company make him feel like he never left. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Vogel started to dance at the age of 4 influenced by his brother who is 12 years older and now also a professional dancer. Vogel then passed an audition for the John Cranko School and later received a scholarship to study with Marika Besobrasova at the Academie de Danse Classique Princesse Grasse in Monaco. Immediately after the Beijing show, Vogel will fly to Moscow to dance in MacMillan's Manon. Stuttgart Ballet's principal dancer Friedemann Vogel will perform Romeo with NBC's ballerina Wang Qimin as Juliet in Beijing. Two French jazz musicians, pianist Baptiste Trotignon and percussionist Minino Garay, are expected to perform here in May. The Painted Garden, a multimedia dance show by Italy's interactive theater company TPO, is returning to the city after its debut last May. Italian violinist Giovanni Angeleri will perform in the city together with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.
Choreographed by Swiss musician Michel Kelemenis, the play is said to feature exquisite costumes.
New Yorker Faith Ann Birnstein visited the Three Gorges twice - before and after the dam was completed in 2006.
Birnstein, who has worked as a university instructor in Chongqing for nearly 12 years, hopped on a cruise with a cultural exchange group during her 2009 trip. As China's longest watercourse and the planet's third longest, the Yangtze is renowned for its long, rich history and beautiful scenery. The Three Gorges - Qutang, Wu and Xiling - span about 120 kilometers on the river from Chongqing's Fengjie county to Hubei province's Yichang. Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors frequently boarded wooden ships to inspect their territory.
Since the Three Gorges Dam - the world's largest hydroelectric project - began operations, the water level has risen, making the river wider and mountains appear lower. To cope with the changes, Beijing in 2004 drafted the Regional Tourism Development Master Plan of The Three Gorges, China's first national plan for regional tourism development. The plan coordinates the activities of the region's cities and provinces, especially Chongqing and Hubei, to improve infrastructure, upgrade travel facilities and develop new scenic spots.
Chongqing Normal University tourism expert Hu Zhiyi says that, compared with the "old" Three Gorges, the current area offers diversified landscapes, such as lakes.
Li Yang, a 20-year-old student in Chongqing, recently took a bus to the municipality's Dragon Jar Geopark for a three-day trip. The national geological park's karst areas were developed as a destination starting in 2005.
Wulong county in southeastern Chongqing, far from the river, is not a traditional destination for cruise passengers. The bureau has worked with nearby counties along the river and designed various travel products to meet increasing demand. It attracted over 5 million visitors in 2015, up nearly 140 percent over the previous year.
The expansion of luxury fleets has made Yangtze cruises as popular as those along the Nile, the Mississippi, the Rhine and the Danube.
Yangtze cruises have become more interesting and comfortable, says Liu Jianbin, general manager of the cruise business at Tuniu, one of China's biggest online travel agencies. Over 100 million tourists visited the region's 15 districts and counties last year, Chongqing's tourism bureau says.
But the number of guests from overseas is dropping, says Yu Bing, marketing director of Yichang Royal Yangzi Cruise Ltd, a high-end cruise company targeting the overseas market. Chongqing plans to build a cruise terminal at Chaotianmen Port on the Yuzhong Peninsula, plus 10 other terminals along the Yangtze.
And I've taken several - very different - trips through the region since I returned three years ago. Indeed, the scenery of the gorges - Qutang, Wu and Xiling - have transformed since the world's largest dam was completed in 2006, raising the water level to 175 meters. Most folks relied on the waterway to travel the area in the '90s, due to underdeveloped roads in the mountainous area around the river. My mother took me on a 10-day cruise from Chongqing to Hubei province's Yichang in the summer of 1992, when I was in junior high.
The banks hosted several scenic spots, such as Fengdu Ghost City, White Emperor City and Zhangfei Temple. Today, there are many ways to discover destinations farther from the riverside thanks to huge infrastructure investments. I'll always remember drinking beer on the deck as we watched the sunset reflected off the river that rippled in the cool breeze. But nowadays, I opt to drive to the area's scenic spots, since highways have been built to link every county and district. Easier access has enabled me to discover amazing natural sceneries, such as those of Yunyang Dragon Jar Geopark, tucked among ancient heritage sites.
Though people like me sometimes miss the Yangtze's wild torrents of the days of yore, indeed, the "new Three Gorges" present another, tranquil, type of beauty.
The official expects that the number will rise to 200,000 in 2016 as almost 15 regular and charter flights come to Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada every week. Mahmoud reveals that the tourism authority contacted the Chinese ambassador in Cairo and asked him to work on allowing Chinese airlines to fly to Egypt, adding "it will be a great chance for the Chinese airlines to work in the Egyptian market". He says that most Chinese tourists visit areas such as the Giza pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and Upper Egypt's ancient temples. Mahmoud says there are many travel agencies in Egypt working with Chinese tourism operators. Tourism in Egypt was dealt a heavy blow following the Russian airplane crash in North Sinai in October, after which several countries, including Britain and Russia, suspended flights to Egypt. Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has descended into political, economic and social chaos, causing a recession in its tourism industry, one of the main sources of the country's national income and foreign currency reserves. Meanwhile, the official says the visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Egypt "sent a positive message to our friends in China". Mahmoud says the government is working hard to breathe life into the ailing tourism industry through promotional campaigns inside and outside Egypt. He believes that the Arab market is very promising as the number of Arab tourists in Egypt has increased in January and February this year. Although many European countries stopped tourists from going into Egypt recently, he says, there are some European countries that have started sending tourists to Egypt.
Mahmoud believes that the sources of tourism must be diversified, noting that in the past Egypt has relied on four or five markets that brought in about 70 to 75 percent of its tourists. Jia Pingwa's new novel, Ji Hua, narrates the story of a woman who is freed after three years of being abducted. The author, who won the Mao Dun Literature Prize, China's top literary award, for his earlier novel Qin Qiang (Qinqiang Opera), has named his latest book after an imaginary flower.
Ji Hua is the tale of Hu Die, a girl from a poor rural family who accompanies her single mother to the city. Jia is among China's most influential contemporary writers, and his books have been translated into many languages, including English, French, German, Russian, Japanese and Korean. Ji Hua was written based on a real-life story that Jia had heard from a resident of Xi'an, in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, a decade ago.
Jia, who also comes from a farmers' family, then began to focus on population thinning in rural areas of China. Several years ago, in many remote villages in Shaanxi, the number of residents fell so much that the villages were merged into one. Many women who go to the cities with their husbands either divorce or abandon them fearing the prospect of returning to the poor villages. The situation reminded Jia of the story about the abducted girl, and resulted in the new novel of around 200 pages - his shortest - using a concept he borrowed from Chinese ink painting, an art form that he is also good at.
Instead of depicting pure good and evil, his book creates an organic image of a remote village in his home province, where challenging living conditions present many complexities. Chinese author Liang Hong, who is known for her works about the Chinese countryside, says that for her, Ji Hua isn't about an abducted woman, but more about how to communicate with the land. According to Chen Xiaoming, a professor of Chinese literature at Peking University, Jia's writing is both about wronged women of rural China and the living conditions there.
The author writes about the villages that have been deserted for the cities - villages with history, beauty and vitality.
Jia's latest novel reveals the transformation of China's rural areas through an abducted woman's story.
Reading and translating the Bard's sonnets she realized how much of a poet he was, in addition to being one of the world's finest playwrights. According to historians, the Bard dedicated many of his sonnets to a young man and a few to a young woman. Along with the rest of the world, China is marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death this year with a series of cultural events. Ye will release her book dedicated to Shakespeare on World Book Day, this Saturday, she says. She hopes to help Chinese readers understand Shakespeare's sonnets better through Across 400 Years to Reach You, her well-illustrated book that not only translates his words about also interprets their meaning. To critic Zhang Yimeng, the Bard's sonnets have been lost on many Chinese readers due to translation issues. There have been a few successful Chinese translations in the past century, but Zhang says more needs to be done. Zhang sees Ye's translations as being more successful, because she adopted the approach of paraphrasing and captured key elements of the original sonnets - the theme of beautiful and undying love, the elegance of language and the enchanting mood or atmosphere created by them.
A Shakespeare fan commented on Douban, a Chinese online platform, that Ye's translation brings readers closer to the Bard's "mood of love" compared with earlier versions that sounded more like an elderly man recalling his younger days. For every sonnet she translated, she also offered an essay alongside recording her thoughts and ideas.
Her online translations that mix modern Chinese, especially catchy phrases, with expressions in ancient Chinese poems, helped take excerpts from the upcoming book to her friends and beyond. Born in East China's Fujian province, Ye has an English major from Beijing's University of International Relations.

Before starting to translate Shakespeare, she worked as a professional translator in the Chinese navy for 16 years. Ye is not afraid of possible questions that could be raised about her version of Shakespeare's sonnets. Hu, 63, can trace his ancestry back to more than 20 generations in an ancient village in East China's Jiangxi province. With China's modernization, ancient villages are disappearing at a fast pace as residents replace old houses with modern buildings.
The top annual meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are commonly referred to as the two sessions. Guo says houses in Jinxi have retained their olden-day forms as locals have great respect for their ancestors. She has helped with a conference called Digital Heritage Around China to raise awareness and money for the protection and preservation of ancient villages.
In Youdian village, there are 72 ancient stone buildings with walls that are several meters high.
For the few residents of the village, they recognize that their houses must be preserved as a kind of cultural heritage after the local government offered them money to help them with repairs. Separately, Huang says the local government also wants to bring in private funds to protect the ancient villages.
For instance, Guo's team and the organizer of Digital Heritage Around China have promised to help fix decaying houses.
But Guo says repairing the houses is relatively easy compared with convincing young villagers to return home from the cities.
These villages that reply mainly on agriculture can't provide enough job opportunities like big cities do.
A young man who Guo met earlier this year told her that he realized the value of the houses in his village when he saw how ancient houses are protected in other countries. Last week, Faberge Revealed, which displays 234 of the finest Russian objects from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, normally housed in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in the United States, went on display at the Meridian Gate Gallery in Beijing's Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City. According to Alex Nyerges, director of VMFA, Peter Karl Faberge (1846-1920) is considered one of the world's most refined jewelers. From 1885, czars Alexander III and Nicholas II commissioned Faberge to make Easter eggs as gifts every year. For instance, the Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg, made by Faberge firm in 1903 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of St. He also says that some techniques used to make the eggs were even more demanding than what were commonly used to make Chinese royal objects.
For instance, he says while in China enamel is usually used in cloisonne, and enamel painting without a metal outline is done rarely because it is difficult to execute, Faberge's company often uses the technique. Barry Shifman, a curator from VMFA in charge of decorative arts from 1890 to the present, says the picture frame is another Faberge object favored by Russian nobles. Shifman says that VMFA has an impressive collection of Faberge items thanks to Lillian Thomas Pratt, a private collector from Virginia who donated 200 objects to it in 1947. The Beijing event is part of a cooperation agreement between the Palace Museum and VMFA signed in 2011. Under the agreement, a landmark exhibition called Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing, was held at VMFA from October 2014 to January 2015.
With the ongoing exhibition, the Faberge treasures from VMFA are outside North America for the first time, and this is also the first exhibition at the Palace Museum displaying exhibits from a US museum.
Lou Wei, deputy director of the Palace Museum, says it has also begun to contact other US museums to bring their collections to the Chinese public. Exhibitions displaying royal objects from India, Germany and Spain have been held at the museum since 2005, and Lou says more will follow the Faberge show. Museum director Shan Jixiang says the Meridian Gate Gallery, which is situated by the entrance of the Forbidden City, will become a major venue hosting heavyweight overseas exhibitions in the future.
Born in 1989, Zheng Jilong has become a cocktail-making wizard, starting from scratch to co-own two successful bars. A school dropout who once struggled to make a living, Zheng says an online video in which a mixologist showed his bartending flair changed his life.
That was in 2009, three years after the Weihai native from Shandong province had dropped out of a martial arts occupational school, making a meager income through occasional performances. In 2009, with all the money he had saved - 10,000 yuan ($1,500), Zheng came to Beijing and took a four-month bartending course at an occupational school. It was first time he realized bartending is a respectable profession that requires systemic skills and knowledge, and it's not just about shaking cocktail shakers and being cool, he adds. It was hard for him to remember cocktail recipes, and even harder to master bartending movements with flair. He thought all the time about tips he'd been given to develop his skills, and practiced his set of movements much more than others in the class.
But four months was too short a time for him to fully acquire the skills and knowledge to become a bartender after graduation.
Everything seemed going well, until a bad decision dragged him to the lowest point of his life. He joined in a startup and contracted to run a bar, only to find he was victim of fraud, and lost more than 60,000 yuan in two months. Starting from zero, Zheng drifted from one bar to another, until in 2010, he got a position at Twilight, a popular bar in Beijing. He quickly developed his cocktail-mixing skills and theoretical knowledge, such as the characters of different spirits, and how to mix them with other ingredients, and says now that he learned more in his time at Twilight than in the past years combined. As Chinese people are increasingly getting used to drinking cocktails, people would go a long way to bar streets and hotels if they want to throw a party or socialize with others, he says.
In about a year, thanks to its location, privacy and drinks list of about 150 cocktails, it was packed every night.
Then Zheng launched The Mixing House with Yang Zaigui, a chef, which means they can provide Western and Japanese food, as customers from D&M Bar had suggested. Jasmeet Singh, deputy general manager of The Taj Pavilion, says he got to know the staff, and as they talked, they decided to bring the restaurant's food to the hotel for 10 days in April.
Opening night on Friday was crowded, with officials from India's embassy in attendance, as well as musicians and dancers, Singh says. A portable tandoor oven is in operation, and chef Makhan Singh was making naan by flattening out dough and slapping it on the side of the clay oven, where it cooked into crunchy deliciousness.
The rich butter chicken was my favorite - when ordered a la carte, it's the most expensive item on the menu at 80 yuan, while some entrees are just 40 yuan. While we dined, chef Singh came out to the restaurant floor to demonstrate how roomali roti, a thin Indian bread, is stretched by being tossed in the air like a pizza. The dinner buffet offers such delicacies as butter chicken, aloo jeera potatoes and freshly made naan flatbread. US embassy chef Michael Rosenblum will share dishes with Beijing-area gourmets from menus enjoyed by celebrity guests in a weeklong promotion at Grill 29 starting on Monday. A cultural event hosted by Beijing's suburban Badachu Park celebrated that the best time has come to drink Mingqian tea, which refers to tea leaves picked before the Qingming Festival in southern China. Beijing's first annual hot-sausage eating contest is set for May 14, with organizers promising "beers, hot sauce and love".
They say wine is in Argentina's blood, and the country has even created an international festival for its famed malbec grapes. In 2007, when Chinese photographer Lu Zhirong and his wife, Inri, established Three Shadows, they didn't expect the art center devoted to contemporary photography to flourish.
Now, the institution located in Beijing's Caochangdi arts district has evolved into a major platform for Chinese photographers to show their works and exchange ideas with peers, through exhibitions and workshops.
The Three Shadows Photography Award and Exhibition has been organized since 2009 to encourage Chinese photography.
Nearly 30 photographers have entered experimental works that have been judged by an international panel, including Quentin Bajac, the chief photography curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Japanese designer Satoshi Machiguchi. To Bajac, the creativity and diverse approaches of the photos, as well as the different backgrounds of their creators, show the vigor of Chinese contemporary art. Lu, 48, aka Rong Rong, tells China Daily: "The up-and-coming forces (of Chinese photography) have mushroomed.
For their persistence in promoting the diversity of Chinese photography, Lu and his Japanese wife, who is also a photographer, will be honored by the World Photography Organization with an outstanding contribution award on Thursday in London.
An exhibition will show their works at London's neoclassical building Somerset House, from Friday to May 8. Before his bold step to create the independent platform, Lu had gone through years of hardships - evolving from a struggling beipiao (immigrant in Beijing) to a vanguard photographer. For three successive years, he failed the entrance exam for an art college near his native Zhangzhou, in East China's Fujian province. He turned to photography for comfort and was deeply captivated by the images produced by a camera.
His snapshots recording their lives formed the first body of his experimental works that made people from the art community notice him. Four years later he moved to Liulitun, another village in Beijing, where he worked until it was demolished for urban renovation in 2003.
There, he clicked many photos exploring the city's reconstruction and the influences of the transforming landscape on its residents.
His works - many in black and white, with him and Inri as the models - present a sense of beauty and peace in a changing environment. The exhibition will also display the latest works from his acclaimed Tsumari Story series, an ongoing project that is considered a turning point in his life.
The series were produced when he and Inri first participated in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in 2012.
When Lu first arrived in Niigata, the Japanese prefecture that hosts the festival, he was overwhelmed by the area's tranquility and people's intimacy with nature. The artist couple and their three children modeled for the photos that merged with Niigata's scenic backdrop. Having handed over daily operations of Three Shadows to younger colleagues in Beijing, he and the family relocated to Japan in 2013, and he has since developed his Tsumari Story series. More importantly, Lu says he seldom found the time to take pictures himself when he was busy with Three Shadows.
Last year, the center opened a branch in Xiamen, in Fujian province, where a monthlong photo event was introduced in partnership with the annual Arles Photography Festival. More than a century after Weng Tonghe (1830-1904) is said to have been sacked from office as a minister by Empress Dowager Cixi after they fell out over a campaign, his personal belongings return to Beijing in the form of an exhibition tour of the city. Titled Specific Artifact Exhibition of Two Emperors' Tutors, Weng Tonghe, and the Weng Family, the show opened in the Beijing Stone Carving Art Museum last week as part of a four-stop tour.
More than 70 sets of exhibits, including calligraphy works, porcelain collections and a memorial to the throne, borrowed from Changshu Museum in Jiangsu province, reflect his life. Born in East China's Changshu city, Weng, an influential figure in Chinese history, was the teacher of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors Tongzhi and Guangxu, and became a politician.
After Weng left his office in Beijing, he returned to his hometown and focused on studying ancient Chinese calligraphy. All the exhibits on display in Beijing are original pieces rather than replicas, and some have never been seen in public before, says Qian. Most earlier exhibitions on Weng covered his calligraphy, but this exhibition presents a wider frame on him. According to Zhou Ming, deputy director of Art Exhibition China, which is an affiliate of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the event is part of its projects to introduce scattered resources in local museums to higher platforms, though the organization used to focus on Sino-foreign cultural exchange shows.
On Saturday, when the competition begins, participants will be expected to create new designs based on old texts - the earliest of which date back to the Shang Dynasty (c.16th century-11th century BC). More than 50 Chinese institutions are offering their archives to contestants to come up with design works that will be exhibited in different cities in June. The best will be awarded prizes in October and the works are expected to be converted into cultural souvenirs, among other items of commercial use. Not just for college students, the contest is open to professional designers and artists as well. Huo Ruijuan, secretary-general of the Library Society of China, says the collections in libraries that are at the disposal of contestants include ancient texts, old maps, seals, calligraphy works and art pieces. Zhang Zhiqing, deputy director of the National Center for Preservation and Conservation of Ancient Books, says: "Cultural products like museum souvenirs that show creativity have become popular in the past few years.
He says traditional libraries in China have typically paid more attention to contents of ancient books and focused on developing derivatives based mostly on text.
She is in charge of the June exhibition to be organized at the library's National Museum of Classic Books.
For the upcoming contest, the national library will provide eight ancient books and 10 photos of collections that record China's history of writing. The pieces include a chronicle of Canton in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a Dongba manuscript - a hieroglyph of the Naxi ethnic people in Southwest China - and oracle bones. He is also considering using the college's connections with companies to convert design works to products. Huo, from the Library Society of China, says the competition is being organized with a larger picture in mind. As for the winning designs, putting them into commercial use would also mean developing copyright systems involving individuals, institutions and companies.

A craftsman demonstrates the traditional rubbing technique at the National Museum of Classic Books in Beijing.
When 9-year-old Shi Wanchun heard music playing on an organ in his school in 1945 - the year China saw the end of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) - he could not have expected that, 15 years later, his own composition would be performed by an orchestra. Even more surprising, 60 years later, his nation would become a big player in the world of classical music. According to the National Center for the Performing Arts, the first symphonic score composed by a Chinese was in 1916.
It took the team, led by NCPA music director Chen Zuohuang, a whole year to collect and prepare 34 pieces by 29 composers, including Shi. On Wednesday, the Shandong Song and Dance Theater Symphony Orchestra played Shi's best-known work, Festival Overture, under the baton of Yang Youqing. Shi created the piece in 1959, when he was a senior student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Using a Hebei folk tune usually played on the traditional Chinese brass instrument the suona, he composed a vigorous sonata with a richly festive air. The piece became popular overnight in a time when the whole country was eager to build a "socialist society". Born in a rural area in North China's Hebei province, Shi enjoyed watching performances by local opera troupes. He loved the sound so much that after class he often sneaked into the only music classroom, quietly opening the cover and carefully touching the keys.
He started to teach himself basic music theory and some traditional Chinese instruments, such as the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument) and dizi (a flute). The incident left him depressed because it was very difficult to find a piano in 1950s' Beijing. Shi spent six years at the Central Conservatory of Music, learning both Western classical composition and traditional Chinese and folk music.
Because of his talent, he was chosen to be the co-composer of the famous Chinese ballet Red Detachment of Women.
Later he joined the National Symphony of China as the resident composer to create many symphonic works. Shi is one of 29 contemporary Chinese composers whom the NCPA is celebrating through its Symphonic Spring program.
In the opening concert on April 8, NCPA music director Chen conducted the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra to play pieces by Huang Zi (1904-38), Ma Sicong (1912-87), Li Siguang (1889-1971), Xiao Youmei (1884-1940), He Lyuting (1903-99) and Lin Shengxi (1914-91). According to Chen and his team's research, the first symphonic work by a Chinese composer was Requiem by Xiao Youmei.
Xiao conducted a 16-member orchestra of Peking University to premiere the piece in Beijing in 1925.
In previous editions of the Symphonic Spring program, the NCPA focused on introducing Chinese orchestras. Tan Lihua will conduct the Beijing Symphony Orchestra to play works by Ma Sicong, Wang Xilin and Chen Qigang on April 24. He says: "China now has more than 70 orchestras, and every year one or two new ones are established. He says talented youth graduate one after the other, but most of the aspiring composers don't get a chance to have their works played. Tormented by this unfulfilled love, Du fades away, and before her death asks a helper to hide one of her portraits in a garden.
He immediately recognizes the woman, and eventually digs her out of her grave, reviving and marrying her. In 2007, he danced the pas de deux of Romeo and Juliet with Wang for Angela Merkel, when the German chancellor visited East China's Nanjing city.
It seems my life is always about packing, changing costumes and luggage," Vogel says, recounting his journey. Trotignon is known for his romantic and cheerful style, while Garay's music has deep roots in Argentina, where he was born and raised. Catering to children ages 3 and 7, the show has dancers inviting the audience to join in scenes and interact in a lively theatrical experience. Angeleri won the first prize at the International Paganini Competition in 1997, while the Moscow orchestra, which was founded in 1978, is a major representative of Russia's classical music scene. It was peaceful and seemed so much like traditional China to me as a foreigner," she says, recalling her first trip in 2005. But now people can get off at Fuling Port and take an hourlong drive to its UNESCO South China Karst World Heritage Site.
Above right: Tourists experience a trip on a boat dragged by boatmen along the Shennong stream in the Three Gorges area. However, terror attacks by Islamist militants have led many countries to warn their residents against traveling to Egypt.
But her urban dreams are soon shattered as she is abducted by a group of people, taken to a village and sold to a family. She returns to the same village to reunite with her baby boy whose biological father is her former captor.
Through the abducted woman's perspective, readers not only see the problems of the rural areas, but also the different aspects of village life. So all the characters in the novel are part of the village, and each person has his or her position on issues," says Liang. They try to find ways to communicate with the outside world such as by doing business, and even with Hu Die to reach a 'reconciliation,'" she says.
I also see his hesitation in expressing his love because of the age gap between them," Ye, 46, tells China Daily at a cafe in Beijing, speaking of one of Shakespeare's sonnets.
Having received positive feedback, she went ahead with presenting it to a broader readership.
So when she launched a crowd-funding request to publish the book, she got the task done in two days, thanks to her already existing fan base. After he finishes work in his rice fields he visits a family in Youdian village, speaking to them about the history of their house and narrating stories about their common ancestors, hoping to persuade them to repair their house, which was built hundreds of years ago. All the buildings of Hu's village in Jinxi county are ancient houses dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). All these villages have traditional houses built also in styles of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It's rare to see ancient houses that are mostly in their original forms in such large numbers in China," says Guo Daiheng, an expert on Chinese traditional architecture. An average of 100 villages are vanishing each day in China, scholar Feng Jicai remarked during last year's two sessions in Beijing.
Some are transformed into tourist attractions and the local residents are replaced by businesspeople.
They may leave for the cities or build new houses near their village," says Guo, whose team has been in the area for two months now with the sole aim of studying the houses and protecting them.
The village's most famous ancestor was Hu Guifang, a senior official in the Ming Dynasty, who was then in charge of construction, transportation and agriculture.
They have ancestral temples, schools and houses with similar layouts that include ponds, long and narrow stone alleys. But the average annual income of villagers who work in the rice fields is about 10,000 yuan, says Hu. However, Guo says she sees hope when she meets young people making plans for their hometowns.
The eggs were typically made using precious metals or semiprecious stones and decorated with enamel and gemstones.
The items were mainly bought to the United States in the 1930s, when they frequently appeared in the market there following the Russian Revolution.
D&M Bar opened in 2013 at a residential community near Beijing's CBD, and The Mixing House opened earlier this year.
However, the training he'd gotten in martial arts since young had made him accustomed to move his arms and hands firmly and with strength, and that helped him to learn to make cocktails with elegant but relaxed moves.
So he started working as a waiter in 1949 The Hidden City, a club area in Beijing, where he got the chance to learn from senior bartenders.
Most of the money had come from his parents, who even suspected that Zheng had become addicted with drugs. He was not only encouraged to learn from its skilled mixologists, but he also was required to create new cocktail recipes every day. But if they just want to sit down to drink and talk with close friends, or simply to enjoy cocktails themselves, he believes most would prefer a bar that is quiet and not far from home.
It is one of three outlets of the restaurant group, which has been serving the subcontinent's delicacies in Beijing since 1998.
We visited a little on the late side on the next night, and while things were more sedate, it still was a stimulating experience for the eyes and palate. But we chose the buffet, available only at dinner, which features a variety of Indian dishes, an array of Western items, beverages and a delectable fruit and dessert display with yummy pastries and a chocolate fountain for 188 yuan ($29) plus a 15 percent service fee.
At peak dinnertime hours, there also are dancers, and artists who will apply a henna tattoo.
We're not supposed to name those luminaries, though Americans will probably be able to guess who came to dinner the night "Plains Chocolate Peanut Pie" was served. Students from Peking University Elementary School, Shijingshan, who dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, obtained water from an ancient well that has a history of more than 300 years and then made Mingqian green tea for visitors in the park in a beautiful tea-making ceremony.
There's a 50 yuan entry fee (first 12 signups only), with a 500-yuan prize plus Arrow Factory beers and gift cards from Meatball Factory.
World Malbec Day, observed in Argentina on Saturday, was observed in Shanghai at tastings on Thursday and comes to Beijing this weekend, with a cambalache (bazaar) organized by Wave Club and Wines of Argentina, featuring the country's wines and foods as well as some tango fun.
His residence in suburban Dongcun Village, an artists' compound, enabled him to befriend many avant-garde artists.
Among Japan's largest art events, the festival, which began in 2000, is held every three years.
It made him feel familiar as he had grown up in a village surrounded by mountains, but whose appearance has changed due to industrialization. I just need to be get back in touch with the younger me who knew little about photography but always wanted to be a photographer - and restart," he adds philosophically. He was in charge of several ministries in the Qing Dynasty, including as head of a diplomatic agency and revenues. The pieces were made during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1908), representing the best porcelain works of the time. That's why the NCPA is staging concerts by 12 Chinese orchestras this month to celebrate a century of symphonic music in China. It also represents children playing in the field on summer nights and adults celebrating the harvest. Like the Radetzky March, which is always played at the New Year concert, Shi's Festival Overture has been a staple of Chinese orchestras' celebration repertoires. In 1945, he moved with his family to Beijing, where he first heard organ music in his primary school.
Xiao, who was studying at the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater (University of Music and Theater) in Leipzig, Germany, created the work to mourn the two. Though we found the spectra handwritten by Xiao, we didn't know what the original whole score was like," says Chen. NBC bought the copyright of the work from Stuttgart Ballet in 2006 and premiered it in China that year.
Also, Anderson wasn't sure whether a Chinese company would stage it properly - no Asian companies had performed the production until then. The dancers, the crew, all were all very good," Vogel, 34, tells China Daily on the sidelines of a recent rehearsal.
But thanks to the great music in the rehearsal room every morning, when you feel down, you put your back up, put your neck up to the music, then you move and you feel better," he adds.
His target this year is to attract 9 million tourists, but the government hopes to attract 20 million visitors by 2020. Raped by Hei Liang, a member of that family, she lives through her troubles until her mother rescues her with the help of police and a reporter. There are about 11,000 houses built during both dynasties in the county, according to the local government. Well-known ancestors of today's villagers were influential scholars, writers, poets and powerful officials in imperial China. Jasmeet Singh says that while they don't adjust recipes for non-Indian palates, they have mainly chosen northern dishes that generally are less hot.
In ancient times, it was fashionable for the noble and the rich to drink tea made with water from ancient wells in the park, which are now protected as culture heritage. I could not hold back my tears when I heard Beethoven's Sixth and Ninth symphonies," he says.
When we found these old scores, we found many handwritten notes missing over time and some we realized that had never been played before based on our technical deductions.

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