Moving from the traditional concert hall venue, young ensemble plays to a wider audience, Chen Nan reports.
It was a chilly winter Sunday on Nov 13. Nattily dressed visitors strolled through the Anglican Art Centre, a new hub in Tianjin and the home to the historic Anglican Church, a typical Gothic style architecture.
Some paused to admire the facade of the old building, which was designed by British Sinologist and architect Arthur Christopher Moule. The construction started in 1900 and ended three years later.
Yet the prime attraction was taking place inside the church that night. About 200 people had come to listen to the Qingxin Ensemble perform a diversity of programs.
The concert was opened by a music piece from the Baroque era, Concerto Grosso in D major, op. 6 no. 5, HWV323 by George Frideric Handel, the German-born English composer. The ensemble also performed two contemporary music works during the first half of the concert: Entr'acte for string quartet by American composer Caroline Shaw and Song of the Ch'in by Chinese-American composer Zhou Long.
The second half of the concert saw them play Lua Descolorida, the second of the three songs for soprano and string orchestra written by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov. To warm applause, they closed the concert with the Holberg Suite by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.
"The connection is really palpable," recalls violinist He Yujie, one of the founding members of the Qingxin Ensemble, adding that the tickets for the concert on Nov 13 sold out after about 20 minutes, which was beyond the ensemble's expectation.
The concert opened the ensemble's first performing season, which will bring eight concerts to the Anglican Church until next May.
With a theme of "Soundscape of History & Modernity", the ensemble will perform music pieces from different eras and with different styles. They will also work with a number of musicians, including violinist Yu Xiang, double bassist Zhang Daxun, oboist Liu Mingjia and clarinetist Zhou Xiangyu.
"We are very excited to have our first performing season at the Anglican Church. It's quite different from performing at concert halls where we usually perform. That's what we want from the very beginning — chamber music takes place in venues as diverse as the music itself," says He.
Founded in 2021, the Qingxin Ensemble gathers young musicians, who graduated from the Tianjin Juilliard School and the Juilliard School in New York, as well as students from the two schools who are still pursuing their music studies.
Qingxin refers to "chasing evergreen artistry with a young heart". The average age of the ensemble is about 27. Members of the ensemble currently live and work in Tianjin and Beijing.
According to He, most of the members of the ensemble had studied abroad and returned to China, hoping to pursue their music dream in their home country.