Place:Kaohsiung Cultural Center
Beginning in March, a series of art performances will take place at or around the Kaohsiung-based Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts, which is scheduled to be inaugurated later this year. The world-renowned London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) will kick off the series, which has been organized by the Preparatory Office of the Wei-Wu-Ying Center. The performance by the LSO at Jhihde Hallon March 7 will be the Orchestra's first foray into southern Taiwan.
Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai stated that construction of the Center's infrastructure and facilities is being accelerated during the preparatory stage "to ensure smooth operation upon opening.” She added that by gradually promoting art activities in central and southern Taiwan, the Center "will help people with no prior fine arts experience to learn about the arts, and will encourage art lovers to purchase tickets.”
The Wei-Wu-Ying Center was officially included in the newly established National Center for Performing Arts, following the recent passage of a relevant act by the legislature. In order to accelerate the momentum of the Wei-Wu-Ying Center, Minister Lung has invited Taiwanese classical conductor Chien Wen-pin (簡文彬), who is also resident conductor of the DeutscheOper am Rhein (German Opera on the Rhine), to help define the Center's role and management policies, and design its annual program.
The Minister hopes that the Kaohsiung-based center will open up the art and cultural market in southern Taiwan; together with the National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei and the National Opera House in Taichung, it will form a triad of cultural resources under the National Center for Performing Arts' supervision.
The century-old London Symphony Orchestra, one of the world's top ten ensembles, will be led by British conductor Daniel Harding. Accompanied by the 26-year-old Chinese pianist Wang Yujia (王羽佳), the repertoire includes Prokofiev's 'Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16,' and Mahler's 'Symphony No. 1 in D Major.'
The repertoire of the Kaohsiung concert is specially designed to "show the audience the power of a large orchestra,” according to conductor Chien, who is also serving as the Ministry's international affairs consultant. Chien said he hopes that the Center can recruit an ample number of members before the official opening, so that many art lovers will support its programs when it launches.
In the meantime, Niu Hsiao-hua (牛效華), head of the concert's co-organizer Management of New Arts, pointed out that 90 percent of the 22 concerts performed by overseas artists in Taiwan over the past three years were held in the capital city of Taipei.
In addition to international art performances, the Preparatory Office has planned large outdoor concerts, including the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra's "Sky, Grass, Banyan Tree” picnic concert series and the Ministry's "Living Art Festival” in October. Among other scheduled programs are large-scale Taiwanese operas and the 2014 Wei-Wu-Ying Children's Music Festival. Over 100 shows are scheduled to take place at the Center, providing visitors with a wide variety of events all year round.
Upon inauguration, the Center will have four performance venues with a total of nearly 6,000 seats. The Ministry is bringing all kinds of art events to the Center to help "audiences develop the habit of buying tickets to enjoy art activities,” explained Minister Lung.
The Culture Ministry budgets up to NT$50 million (US$1.66 million) each year for the Kaohsiung-based Preparatory Office to organize cultural programs for audiences in central and southern Taiwan.
Tickets to the London Symphony Orchestra's first Kaohsiung concert at Jhihde Hall are available now, with a 10-percent discount being offered to members, and a special price for students. The LSO will also perform at the National Concert Hall in Taipei on March 6, a day before the Kaohsiung concert.