The two-day Beishan World Music Festival concluded yesterday with a blast, at Nanping’s Beishan Village in Zhuhai. This year, the Beishan Music Festival Organizing Committee invited five bands to perform at the unique venue - a cultural site consisting of a Qing Dynasty family hall and a theatre used during the Cultural Revolution.
Like many second-tier cities in China, many of Zhuhai’s heritage sites of historical value are now destroyed to make way for new high-rise buildings. Determined to make an effort to preserve the city’s unique cultural characteristics, Simone Xue, Beishan Music Festival Organizing Committee’s Chairman, teamed up with JJ Verdun, Founder and Publisher of Delta Bridges, to organize music festivals with the aim of bringing international awareness to the small village in Zhuhai.
“Music and heritage preservation are both my passion. When I came to Beishan 10 years ago with my wife, who is from Beishan originally, the place was in ruins. I came from France where all the historical sites and monuments are very well taken care of. To see such a beautiful place destroyed was horrible. At that time, I decided to do something about it,” said Verdun.
According to Simone Xue, Beishan village is now recognized around the world as a unique performing venue, with performers raving about it after performing at the Beishan Theatre. “Artists feel cool when they are performing here. The venue is extremely Chinese. Although the village was built in the Qing Dynasty, the theatre was widely used during the Cultural Revolution for performances as well as for movies. Villagers would sit inside the theatre to watch movies at that time, so it is really a piece of history,” he said.
With the success of the music festivals every year, the Beishan Music committee is now planning to organize more new music festivals of different genres. “We are not going to limit ourselves to jazz and world music. We love jazz, but we are open to other genres also,” said Verdun. When it comes to the artists, they were extremely satisfied as well. “When we perform here we feel that the audience is not jaded at all. It is a nice feeling that you cannot get if you are performing in Hong Kong or those big cities,” said Robbin Harris of the band FUNF.
-Irene Sum, MDT envoy, Zhuhai
-Photos by Keith Mak with Delta Bridges Media Ltd.