Tunes from two cities: Young musicians explore Shenzhen and San Francisco

CGTN’s “Tunes from Two Cities,” takes you on a journey to explore San Francisco in the U.S. and Shenzhen in China and experience their distinct local cultures.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, November 17, 2023 / — San Francisco, a seaport in California and the host city of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, or APEC, is a world-renowned tourist destination. Shenzhen, a coastal city in southern China, is believed to share a similar temperament with San Francisco. Both cities have a grand bay area and are endowed with a pioneering spirit. In this episode of CGTN’s television program “Tunes from Two Cities,” famous Chinese pianist Tian Jiaxin, also a global Steinway artist, and Su Meng, a classical guitarist and professor at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, started a musical journey in the two cities respectively.

They explore the connection between culture and music, integrate personal feelings and understanding into music interpretation, and perform a piece embodying the spirit of each city from their perspective through the melodies of piano and classical guitar.

Once a fishing village, Shenzhen is now a first-tier city full of vitality. As a special economic zone determined to forge ahead, the city has astonished the world with its “Shenzhen speed.”

Pianist Tian Jiaxin was impressed by the city’s power and fast development. To illustrate her understanding of Shenzhen, she chose a fragment from composer Zhang Shuai’s “Three Preludes” as the beginning of her piano interpretation of the city. “The inspiring melody and passionate variation of the tempo represents Shenzhen’s fast development,” as Tian put it.

In her creation, she also added the musical elements of the folk song “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon.” She explained: “It’s like walking out of a busy neighborhood, coming to a secluded fishing village, bathing in the sea breeze, returning to the most simple and natural state, reflecting another kind of beauty of Shenzhen.”

Meanwhile, her counterpart Su Meng made her music piece for San Francisco. The city is like a book of poetry, and Su “reads” to us with her guitar.

Su chose Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Courante.” She said it was the first Bach piece she learned as a child. “Now, revisiting this piece as a professor of guitar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I find it suits the energy of the city so well,” she added. In her eyes, the music piece has a drive, a long-lasting joyful feeling, which is just the same as the feeling San Francisco brings to her.

With that, both musicians offered their insights ontwo similar seaport cities of China and the United States respectively, through the instruments they specialize in. There is an end to a piece of music, but musicians’ exploration never stops. Although the two cities are separated by mountains and seas, and have different urban characteristics, the cultural exchange and mutual learning between the two will continue.

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