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Famed Handel's 'Messiah' to be Played in Beijing - 2001-12-07

The famed Handel's "Messiah," a piece of music that has been rarely heard in China since 1949, is to be performed in Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall. One of the concert's sponsors says the performance of the religious music shows a new openness in China. The sponsors hope to raise money for charity.

This is the Chinese National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus along with the China Film Symphony, conducted by Timothy Su, getting ready for what sponsors say is the first complete performance of the Messiah in a major venue here in decades. The concert, which will be performed in Chinese, takes place Sunday in the Forbidden City, the heart of Beijing and the seat of the old imperial government.

Several foreign oil and drug companies are sponsoring the concert, which is organized by the China Charities Federation and the Christian Broadcasting Network of the U.S., CBN's Jewel Nordstrom says that during China's Cultural Revolution, Western classical music was seen as bourgeois and banned. She says this concert is one measure of the changes that have taken place, as China has opened up to the world.

Conductor Timothy Su says he hopes his Chinese audience will learn about another kind of music, and know something they have never thought about before.

First violin Wu Zhengming says Chinese musicians have ample technical skill to play this piece, but have to pay attention to its style because it is a little bit difficult.

Chorus member Lin Yuche says some people take this just as an artistic song, but quite a number of others see the "Messiah" as a religious performance.

Ms. Nordstrom says the money raised will go to several projects that help orphans, poor children and the elderly in China.