PLEASANT COOPERATION: Michel Plasson is invited by the National Center for the Performing Arts to conduct the French opera The King of Ys in 2008 (XINHUA)
World-famous French conductor Michel Plasson, who led the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse for 35 years until 2003, was appointed the principal conductor of the China National Symphony Orchestra (CNSO).
During his one-year term, Plasson plans to present 10 concerts.
Plasson made his first appearance in his new position at the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing on March 14, winning great acclaims. The concert consisted of Cesar Franck's Symphony in D minor and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No.7 in A major, the touchstone for the cooperation between a conductor and his orchestra.
"Since we had collaborated before, we have a better understanding of each other this time. In all, we had six rehearsals in a week, during which we expressed ourselves and enjoyed coming together. At the same time, I found the CNSO a very talented orchestra that has been making quick progress. The final success related to our joint efforts," said Plasson when asked about the feeling he received from the performance.
Plasson is a long-time friend of the Chinese people, and he has been regularly invited by the NCPA. In 2008, he conducted the French opera The King of Ys in the NCPA and also conducted Hector Berlioz's La Symphonie Fantastique with the CNSO.
"The cooperation greatly excited CNSO players and enabled them to show their highest artistic level to the audience," said CNSO Director Guan Xia, adding that this was why they decided to invite Plasson to be the principal conductor.
Pleasant cooperation and communication with CNSO members also made a deep impression on Plasson. "When they invited me, I was planning to have a rest, but I couldn't say no to this invitation," he said on March 9 in Beijing.
Originally he planned to take up the position at the end of 2009, but it was postponed for medical reasons. He has now recuperated well and is fully fit.
"Music is my almighty remedy. For me, no music, no hope. We need music in our life because it points out the way and directions ahead. Music makes people with different languages walk together to share beautiful things," said Plasson.
He said during his term he will bring some special music to the orchestra, including French music and works from other regions, hoping to introduce to Chinese audiences classic symphony works as well as world-famous performers.
What's more, Plasson also hopes to conduct some Chinese symphonic works and plans to perform in other cities and universities in China to share different music with audiences.
After his first concert on March 14, Plasson will conduct the Requiem of the Earth composed by Guan in May to commemorate the devastating earthquake that occurred in southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008.
"It's a remarkable piece of work. Although the theme is very sad, it passes on hope to people," said Plasson.
On June 8, he will present to the audience a concert entitled Night of French Classics. Plasson will select a repertoire of classical French music for this concert.
Whether Plasson is acceptable to the Chinese market remains to be seen, since his intention to conduct several less well-known pieces may not be suitable for a market such as China, whose audiences for the Western classical music are relatively smaller, said an article in Shenzhen Economic Daily.
But the CNSO has confidence. "During Plasson's term, he will introduce many classical symphonic works, as well as a number of well-known performers. At the same time, he will bring a more advanced concept of symphony performance to help our orchestra to better present Western works," Guan said.
"I will spare no effort to help the CNSO to achieve that," said Plasson. He said he hopes he can use his new post to deepen Chinese people's appreciation of Western classical music. For the future concerts, he intends to strike a balance between educating the audience and offering them tried-and-true favorites.
"Such a great country as China deserves a great orchestra. With the best concert hall in the world, China also should have the best orchestra in the world," he said, adding that now the CNSO has the strength to do that.
"I don't do much conducting now, but I will try to satisfy the CNSO's demands as much as possible, because China is a country worth the effort."