The Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra (FCCO) comprises famous musicians from China’s most prestigious institution of music education – the China Music Conservatory. Since the orchestra’s founding, it has appeared in various cultural activities and events across China. As one of the most talented and refined performing groups endorsed and promoted by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, their tours overseas have criss-crossed a dozen countries and regions, including Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Cuba, and Israel, captivating the hearts and minds of thousands of music lovers along the way. Internationally, the FCCO continues to receive invitations to many renowned international art festivals around the world, including the Brisbane and Canberra international music festivals in Australia, Wellington and Auckland festivals in New Zealand, George Enescu Festival in Romania, Cervantes Festival in Mexico, and the Huayi Festival in Singapore. The FCCO has published original music CDs, with Four Dreams by the Plum Blossoms and The Song of Wind. The FCCO has been praised by domestic and foreign music academics and music lovers for ‘reflecting the unique magnificence and elegance of Chinese traditional music on the modern stage, performed with a rarely seen charm’. ‘The FCCO has helped common Chinese people to appreciate what was formally regarded as “highbrow” music, and has also played an important role in introducing this music to the outside world’. ‘It is considered one of the most influential chamber orchestras in the world today’.
The FCCO’s outstanding place in today’s musical landscape can be attributed not only to its unique style and exemplary musicianship, but also and more significantly to its members’ firm cultural awareness and deeply held principles of creative openness. Whilst drawing upon the rich legacy of Chinese music, the FCCO also emphasises the modernity of the present epoch with their music and the distinctive individualism of contemporary musicians. The orchestra’s performances emphasise music research, cultural inheritance, and contemporary experimentation onstage, and these in turn produce dynamic cultural exchanges. The FCCO hopes that this approach will trigger a new round of discussion about how to carry forward China’s musical heritage, how to expand and innovate the current model of fostering talent, to usher in a flourishing, creative diversity of Chinese national music, and, ultimately, to promote the excellent music culture of the Chinese nation.
Liu Shun, music director and conductor of the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra and Chinese National Music Youth Orchestra, professor at China Conservatory and postgraduate tutor, has dedicated himself to studying and preserving Chinese national music and exploring innovative practices in Chinese national music by pursuing multi-dimensional research and absorbing the essence of traditional culture. Also, he has made outstanding achievements, recognised both at home and abroad. He has organised and directed a number of major cultural activities and conducted concerts performed by the Chinese National Music Youth Orchestra, China Conservatory National Orchestra, New Music Orchestra of the Central Conservatory of Music, Guangdong Traditional Music Ensemble, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, and Russian National Orchestra etc. He has produced and published music albums and music programmes for television and visited dozens of countries and regions.
Yang Jing, a famous pipa virtuoso, professor at the China Conservatory, tutor in postgraduates studies, vice chairwoman of the Pipa Professional Council of the China Folk Orchestral Music Council, subject leader of Beijing Higher Colleges, and chairwoman of the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra. Honoured as ‘a pipa virtuoso with the highest stagecraft enchantment in the contemporary era’, Ms. Yang has won many awards in national pipa contests, visited more than 40 countries and regions, and attended dozens of international music festivals and major music events.
Shen Cheng is a famous huqin virtuoso, professor at China Conservatory, tutor in postgraduate studies, member of the Folk Music Committee of the Chinese Musicians’ Association, vice-chairman of the Huqin Professional Committee of the China Nationalities Orchestra Society, and president of the Middle School Attached to China Conservatory. He has composed dozens of musical works.
Zhang Zunlian is a famous erhu virtuoso, professor, tutor in postgraduate studies and vice-dean of the National Music Department at the China Conservatory, and vice-director of the Huqin Professional Committee at the China Nationalities Orchestra Society.
Zhao Chengwei is a famous sanxian (a three-stringed instrument) virtuoso, member of the Chinese Musicians’ Association and China Nationalities Orchestra Society, member of the Sanxian Profession, Chinese National Occupation Skill Appraisal Expert Committee, professor at the China Conservatory, tutor in postgraduate studies, and director of the Plucking Music Staff Room at the National Music Department.
Wei Wei is a famous liuqin (a smaller version of the pipa, used to accompany singing in Beijing opera) and ruanxian (a type of lute, often called ‘the Chinese guitar’) virtuoso, professor at the China Conservatory, tutor in postgraduate studies, director of the Ruanxian Professional Committee at the China Nationalities Orchestra Society and executive councilor of the Liuqin Professional Committee.
Jiao Shanlin is a famous percussion music virtuoso and teacher at the China Conservatory. Boasting a superb command of performance skill and techniques, he specialises in multiple Chinese and Western percussion instruments.
Yang Lin is a famous zheng (a type of Chinese zither, with 16–25 strings) virtuoso, teacher at the China Conservatory of Music, member of the Chinese Musicians’ Association, member of the Beijing Zheng Academy, and director of the Konghou Professional Committee of the China National Orchestra Society.
Luo Yuan is a famous dulcimer (Yangqin) virtuoso, teacher at the China Conservatory of Music, and director of the Dulcimer Professional Committee of the China National Orchestra Society.
Wang Hua is a famous flute and xiao (vertical bamboo flute) virtuoso and performs at the China Opera and Dance-Drama Theatre.
Xiao Ma is China’s top tenor vocalist and a prominent pianist. Boasting a sweet voice and exceptional talent in music, he is at home in Western and Beijing opera alike, artistic songs and musical theatre. His success fills the void in Chinese tenor performance. Also, he has a unique style in performing musical works that combine elements of classic and modern popular music.