Sounds of the festival
Glittering line-up of international artists will perform at 29th edition of prestigious musical extravaganza
This year’s Macao International Music Festival (MIMF) isn’t just amazing, it is “Sound-mazing”. That’s how the 29th edition of the prestigious event, organised by Macao’s Cultural Affairs Bureau from October 4 to November 1, is being advertised.
This year will feature 23 extraordinary performances with artists from Russia, Sweden, the United States, Portugal, Britain, Italy, Israel, Switzerland, Iceland, Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. To promote outreach and engage grass roots audiences, there are more than 60 events bringing music to the people. Most will be free.
Opening the MIMF is a music spectacle with the Macao Orchestra, the China NCPA Orchestra and Choir, the Macao Youth Choir and Swedish mezzo-soprano Charlotte Hellekant, all together to tackle Gustav Mahler’s extraordinary Symphony No 3, one of the great symphonic masterpieces (October 4).
Other great symphonic experiences include the BBC Philharmonic presenting two concerts, Shubert’s Symphony No 9 “The Great” (October 16) and Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar (October 17). The Mahler Chamber Orchestra will appear with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen in the lead (October 7). Renowned violinist Gidon Kremer conducts Kremerata Baltica in two shows of amazing harmony between orchestra and musician (October 12 and 13).
Moscow’s Novaya Opera Theatre will deconstruct the hazards of musical genius with Mozart and Salieri - Opera in 1 Act by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (October 9-11). The festival closes with Charles Gounod’s exploration of human nature in the five acts opera Faust, a co-production between the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the MIMF (Oct 31, Nov 1). Also don’t miss the Stradivari Quartett, featuring four musicians playing on valuable 300 year-old string instruments and creating music that is equally priceless (October 24-25).
Other highlights include concerts by Icelandic rising star Ólafur Arnalds (Oct 29) and Swedish mezzo-soprano Charlotte Hellenkant’s musical journey through Scandinavia called Northern Lights (Oct 9). Fans of Portuguese music won’t want to miss accordion quartet Danças Ocultas and contemporary fado singer Pedro Moutinho together in performance (October 16). Jazz and soul pop aficionados will enjoy the Great Ladies of Song show with vocalist extraordinaire Patti Austin, Manhattan Transfer singer Janis Siegel and Hong Kong’s own Elisa Chan in a tribute to Billie Holiday (October 18).
Known as a “vocal orchestra”, the all-male American choir Chanticleer will inspire and captivate over two separate concerts, Over the Moon (Oct 13) and Washing of the Water (October 14). Another a cappella male choir Profeti della Quinta, five singers based in Basel but focusing on 16th and 17th century Italian repertoire, will also present two evenings of hypnotic songs in Il Mantovano Hebreo (October 28) and Lamenti and Love Songs – Italian Madrigals from around 1600 (October 29). Also, the Coro Lirico Siciliano will return to Macao to present the sacred and operatic concert Songs of Praise (October 18).
To commemorate significant milestones in China’s history and important figures in Macau’s musical culture, the Macao Chinese Orchestra presents the rousing Xian Xinghai and Liu Tianhua Commemorative Concert - 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Anti-Japanese Resistance War (October 15).
More Chinese artists will be represented in the acclaimed Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra’s anticipated concert Jing‧Qi‧Shen, which aims to put a breath of fresh air into traditional Chinese music (October 6). The Taiwanese aboriginal group, O-Kai Singers, will share the stage with Hong Kong a cappella group Charatay to offer a music feast to local audiences (October 24).
More folk music will be heard as the Loess Ballads show introduces traditional ethnic music from northwest China, to be performed by brilliant vocalists A Bao and Wang Erni, with the Beijing Song and Dance Theatre National Orchestra (October 31).
This year’s Macau music event includes two special pre-festival concerts Bravo Macao, offering a stage to promising local musicians and encouraging students to exhibit their talent.
In that spirit, the festival continues an extensive outreach programme by inviting many artists and musicians to take part in workshops, master classes, talks and other outreach activities for music enthusiasts.
Among the talks include famous baritone Brian Montgomery presenting “Classical Singing Today”. During the festival, a master class by the Great Ladies of Songs’s Janis Siegel and Elisa Chan will introduce popular and jazz music performance techniques. Iceland’s Ólafur Arnalds will direct a music composition workshop, while Taiwan ensemble O-Kai Singers will explain the characteristics of a cappella music and discusses the main elements of “vocal percussion”.
Members of the audience can join one of four backstage tours to “Faust - Opera in 5 Acts by Charles Gounod” led by its set designers and technicians. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra has created the workshop “Feel The Music” specifically for hearing impaired children to help them use other senses to feel music’s rhythm. Best of all, most of the outreach events are free.