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The 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) kicked off Friday in the melody of a choral symphony jointly performed by Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and Shanghai Opera House.

Hosted by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China and organized by Shanghai Municipal People's Government, the CSIAF, which runs from October 20 to November 19, covers a variety of art programs ranging from stage performances, exhibitions, trade fairs and forums.

Over 40 stage plays - 25 from China and 20 from abroad - will be performed at local theaters. Over 50 educational programs are also planned in order to encourage Chinese students to learn and think about the arts in a critical way.

Nine works and 31 performances and exhibitions by Rising Artists' Works, a young talent program launched by CSIAF in 2012 to "collect ideas from young artists and develop a culture of innovation," will show the energy and power of China's new generation.

Parallel sessions in Wuxi of East China's Jiangsu Province, Ningbo of Zhejiang Province, Hefei of Anhui Province, Guizhou Culture Week, Israel Culture Week and another seven themed festivals including Shanghai Comedy Festival and Shanghai Magic Festival will help extend the art carnival.

A gala for all

With "A Festival of Arts, a Gala for All" as its motto, CSIAF brings the arts to local communities with Art Space as one of its core sections every year. There will be 46 art performances in 94 sessions covering 16 districts all over the city, each district having its own theme.

Approximately 60 percent of the artists from the main festival will join these performances with dances and dramas. A music festival in Shanghai's Gongqing Forest will be held on October 28-29, and a 12-hour special event, themed on Ode, will take place on October 29.

Many renowned foreign artists and art groups were also invited, including American artist Robert Wilson, one of the most significant representatives of the theatrical avant-garde, and dramatist Peter Brook from the UK.

The Berlin Philharmonic, one of the world's largest orchestras and Staatskapelle Dresden, one of world's oldest orchestras, will join Chinese pianists Lang Lang and Li Yundi respectively for symphony concerts. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform at the carnival.

As for dance, Nederlands Dans Theater will show its new ballet Shoot the Moon, The British Avant Garde Dance will bring Fagin's Twist, performing Dickens' famous novel Oliver Twist in contemporary hip-hop style, and Béjart Ballet Lausanne from Switzerland will explain The Magic Flute in a unique way.

Silk Road Arts

This year's festival sheds light on that cooperation occurring between  Belt and Road countries. Last Friday, the Network of Silk Road Arts Festivals was officially established, with 124 organizations from 32 countries and regions joining as members.

To enhance cooperation and communication among its members, related events will also be introduced in the festival.

Wang Jun, president of the Center for China Shanghai International Arts Festival, said at the Silk Road Arts Festivals Development Forum that the initiative of building up such a network started in 2015, when several arts festivals decided to realize cultural communication and cooperation among the network.

In a group discussion, Wang explained the nature of the network. "I don't think it is an NGO; it is a network which encourages cooperation among all of us," she said, adding that the network provides its partners shared information, knowledge and culture forms.

Wang agreed that every arts festival is unique, yet they all have something in common, which is "to present the best to the public."

"I think the arts festival, first of all, is an engine for creation, and secondly and importantly, an engine for the public to help them, lead them and to increase the ability in appreciating different art forms," she said.

She believes that the festival is a virtual "home for artists, home for productions," which is why a large and inclusive platform for a broader cooperation is required.

Thus, Wang hopes that the network will build up an efficient and regulated mechanism.

By doing so, she said, it will open a diverse cultural communication system shared by all members to share art and technical innovations, set up a database of artists and art programs to realize data sharing and efficient communication, as well as boost international art trade.

Participants have a discussion at a forum during the event Friday. Photo: Courtesy of China Shanghai International Arts Festival



 

Audiences enjoy a show. Photo: Courtesy of China Shanghai International Arts Festival

Performers at the event Thursday. Photo: Courtesy of China Shanghai International Arts Festival