Launched in 2011, the pioneer program I SING BEIJING, now called iSING! International Young Artists Festival, piqued the imagination of classical music lovers and industry professionals with its innovative concept of teaching Mandarin as a lyric diction and merging it with the Western-style operatic tradition through the introduction of contemporary Chinese vocal repertoire.
Under the tutelage of experts from the Metropolitan Opera and major conservatories in Beijing and Shanghai, 40 Western vocalists from eleven countries alongside 16 Chinese counterparts were chosen through competitive auditions across three continents to undergo the one-month long, life-changing program in Beijing, in which they began with no background in Mandarin but by the end embodied a wealth of new characters with fresh perspective and interpretive freedom.
These singers have since given over twenty concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Paris and across the continental USA, reaching a diverse demographic of enthusiastic audience, notably its debut concert at the sold-out Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center in February of 2013. To a public accustomed to eclectic programming and dynamic performances, this concert was a milestone as it gave the musicians and audience a rare opportunity to perform and discover a captivating new repertoire.
Vocal works sung in Mandarin and theatrical music about Chinese themes have always been, and are, created by Chinese composers. The burgeoning interest in this repertoire is evidenced by a rising number of commissions and co-productions by both American and Chinese opera companies. Central City Opera was among the trendsetters with its commission of Poet Li Bai which was a critical and public success in five revivals across the United States, China and Europe. Further testimony to this trend can be seen in Santa Fe Opera’s co-production of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Houston Grand Opera’s commission of Bound, Opera Boston’s Pulitzer-prize winning Madame White Snake, as well as six new operatic commissions at the National Centre of Performing Arts in Beijing.
The iSING! International Young Artists Festival Alumni
The iSING! program has attracted talented singers from across the globe and include both alumni and current members of Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and San Francisco Opera Adler Program, opera studios of the Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg, France, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, Italy, Zürich Opera in Switzerland, Scuola dell’opera italiana di Teatro Comunale di Bologna in Italy, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, semifinalists of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, winners of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the Hans Gabor Belvedere International Voice Competition, Paris Opera Competition, Spoleto Festival, George London Vocal Competition and a Grammy Award.