Religious Music Unwelcome in China

Classical music is booming in China, but some works, namely the religious ones difficult to get performance rights. This is odd as they have a number of world class classical musicians on the world stage and thousands (perhaps millions) of players from amateur to professional studying classical music. Richard Spencer, of the Telegraph, wrote from Beijing on 30 September about the difficulties some organisation were having when attempting to perform religious music, such as Handel's Messiah or Mozart's Requiem. WorldNetDaily seems to confirm this with their own report, which also links to another report about the expulsion of Christian Missionaries prior to the Olympics.

This is not necessarily news, as China has long had a struggle with religious idiologies since Mao Zedung came to power in 1949. Before this point, there was tension between the east and west with the opium wars of back in 1839-1942, and earlier dating back to the cultural clashes brought about by the trade along the Silk Road.

While it's perhaps understandable why the two cultures clash (as differing cultures tend to do), there is a sense of frustration when great music is prevented because of a political agenda. Shostakovich certainly felt this during the Stalin years. While Stalin tried to repress the music, ultimately he and his regime failed. The 20th Century was rife with political regimes banning or restricting music for political aims, and every attempt failed in the end. Because musicians still push boundaries like the Icelandic singer Bjork did recently by singing her song Independence to Tibet at a concert in Shanghai.

As China continues to grow and become more widely connected with the west, through the internet, commerce and world political events, there will be more and more attempts at bringing music of all types to her people, as well as music from China to the rest of the world. It is this blending of cultures that ultimately creates cultures new. So, while it is disheartening to think there has been some limiting at the present, I do not believe the Chinese government has the ability to stop the cultural wave of Classical Music.


max said…
This is not necessarily news, as China has long had a struggle with religious idiologies since Mao Zedung came to power in 1949.

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