The curtain rose for “Sing for Friendship—Singing Competition of Chinese Songs by Foreigners in Jiangsu” when Jasmine Flower, a mixed tune of Chinese classic and jazz, held sway in Jiangsu Art Theater on the 8th of May. Co-hosted by Jiangsu Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Jiangsu Provincial Federation of Literary and Art Circles, the competition lasted for an hour and a half, in which foreign friends sang and danced to their hearts’ content to convey friendship and their love for Jiangsu and for China.
“I believe in myself, in tomorrow, and in that youth sees no horizon line…” sang Harrison, a band composed of musicians from the Philippines and Ukraine. The performance in praise of youth and dreams quickly livened up the atmosphere on the scene and captured hearts of all the audience. In the final round, this five-person band won favor of the judge panel with their song I Believe scooping the first prize. “Every time I ran into trouble, I would cheer myself up by saying Stay Strong!”, said Odonis Nicolas, 38-year-old lead singer of the band and also the winner in Voice of the Philippines, who came to Yancheng two years ago. He added that music gives a voice to what is on his mind and friendship is worth singing for. What he wants to express to everyone is entailed by the song I Believe.
Among many other contestants, Troy Morris from the US enjoys a certain fame. As a youngster born after the 1990s, Morris was once double bass principal at the Webster University Symphony Orchestra and Maryville Symphony Orchestra in America, and now is the double bass player in Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. This time he assumed a new role as singer and brought a song named where does the time fly. “When I listened to this song the first time, I felt deeply touched and called to mind my parents living far away in the US. I hope all that are separated in different places due to the pandemic could get together at an earlier date. I also wish to tell everyone through this song that we should cherish time and cherish those around us.” Said Morris, who mentioned that last year the pandemic made it impossible for the orchestra to host live concerts, thus they gave live-streaming performances on video platforms like Migu and Bilibili. The formerly four-person group playing stringed instruments developed into a big band in the end with more than 70 performers. “Reading fans’ comments left me immensely moved. It is music that builds a bridge among us. Just as the west is home to symphony and jazz, China is possessed of its own unique musical instruments like Guqin (a seven-stringed plucked instrument) and distinctive music forms. I hope to have more exchanges with Chinese national musical instrument players to better promote the integration of the Chinese and western art, so as to earn more hearts for our music.” He noted.
162 music talent from 54 countries across the globe signed up for the competition, among whom are professionals and amateurs including employees of foreign-invested companies, foreign teachers and students. 21 works finally stood out from the altogether 100 entries and got awarded, after the preliminary and final competitions. Hui Jianlin, Vice Governor of Jiangsu Government, and Yan li, Vice Chairperson and Deputy Secretary of the Party Leading Group of the Provincial People’s Political Consultative Conference presented awards to the winners.
Music speaks for the mutual learning between civilizations. Pearleen Maistry (Chinese name “珍珠”, or Zhen Zhu, the Chinese equivalent of pearl) is an English teacher with Suyu District Experimental Primary School of Suqian city. Impressing others as happy and lively, she comes from Durban of South Africa. “After living here in China for three years, I fall in love with this beautiful and fertile land.” Pearleen pointed out, “I came with I Love You China, as this song could best express my innermost feelings.” She brought with her a six-person band for live accompaniment for better stage effects. “The keyboardist, guitarist, bassist and drummer all came from Suqian together with me. When we performed on the stage and sang the song, I felt like gaining more understanding of the Chinese culture and me myself a part of it. I love China!” Said she.