Following the well-received talk by Shen Tiemei, President of the Chongqing Chuan Theatre at the fifth Xiqu Centre Seminar held earlier this year, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) and the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong (CAAHK) today led a group of 12 young Hong Kong Cantonese opera artists on a visit to Chongqing to further their learning journey with Shen, as well as to exchange knowledge with the teachers and students of the Chuan Theatre.

Hailed as the “First Chuanju female vocalist”, Shen Tiemei is recognised as a pioneer in developing Chuanju opera. At the fifth Xiqu Centre Seminar organised in August this year in Hong Kong where Shen shed light on the future development of Chuanju, audience were enthralled by her presentation and her improvised demonstration of vocal abilities. This trip to Chongqing will offer participants more opportunity for face-to-face exchanges with this acclaimed artist.

The WKCDA is committed to providing training opportunities to young Xiqu artists. Through the successful staging of the Rising Stars of Cantonese Opera series in both 2014 and 2015, and the organisation of various exchange platforms such as the Xiqu Seminar Series and exchange tours, it has continuously provided local emerging talent with all round support for training, performance, and artistic exchange. The collaborative Xiqu Cultural Exchange Programme jointly organised by WKCDA and CAAHK commenced in April this year when the first delegation of 10 young artists went to Hangzhou and visited leading Yue opera artist Mao Weitao and her renowned all-female Zhejiang Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe. 

The second delegation, bound for Chongqing, comprises 12 young Cantonese opera artists including Chan Kei-ting, Chan Chak-lui, Tse Hue-ying, Janet Wong, Leung Fei-tung, Wong Hai-wing, Cannon Au Kim-lun, Ng Man-ting, Wong Ho-yau, Kong Ting-yin, Abby Cheung Yuen-man and Lo Ming-cheung. During the 6-day Chongqing trip, the young people will receive training in various aspects of Chuanju, including singing techniques, acting skills and body movement, under the guidance of Shen and the Xiqu experts of the Chuan Theatre. In addition to watching the Chuanju opera Jinzi performed by the Chongqing Chuan Theatre, the young artists will also have the opportunity to engage in conversations with CAAHK’s Chairman Liza Wang and Artistic Director Law Ka-ying, WKCDA’s Executive Director of Performing Arts Louis Yu and Shen Tiemei.

“Shen Tiemei is dedicated to passing on the legacy of traditional operatic genre through exploring new ways of performing and through cultivating new talents. This is an invaluable opportunity for young Hong Kong artists to have direct and in-depth exchanges with the pre-eminent leader in Chuanju. I hope that the professional Xiqu communities in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong can further strengthen our bonds and work closely together to support the long-term artistic development of Chinese opera artists. These talented young people will be the pillars of our future Xiqu Centre,” said Louis Yu, WKCDA’s Executive Director of Performing Arts.

“Shen Tiemei’s aspiration to revitalise the traditional Chuanju opera has been of great value to the Cantonese opera sector in Hong Kong. I especially admire her passion for the art and I hope that this group of young artists will not only learn to improve their technical skills, but also look to Shen as a role model in their artistic pursuit, prompting them to aspire to become the stars of Cantonese opera in future,” said Liza Wang, Chairman of CAAHK.

The Xiqu Cultural Exchange Programme is an ongoing effort to provide training opportunities to emerging talents of Cantonese opera. More exchanges with Xiqu institutions and bodies in Mainland China and Taiwan will be announced in the future.

Remarks

West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural developments worldwide. Its vision is to create a vibrant cultural quarter for the city, a vital platform for the local arts scene to interact, develop and collaborate, and major facilities to host and produce world-class exhibitions, performances and arts and cultural events. It will provide 23 hectares of public open space including ample green space, a green avenue and a harbourfront promenade, and will be closely connected with the neighbourhood.

The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong
Founded in 1953, The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong is a professional organization for Cantonese opera performers in Hong Kong. The Association aims to develop the art of traditional Cantonese opera and promote this invaluable cultural heritage to the community. It is also dedicated to the welfare of fellow performers. The Association is a registered charitable organization in Hong Kong and actively participates in charitable events in the community. Currently the venue partner of Yau Ma Tei Theatre, the Association presents the Cantonese Opera Young Talent Showcase with over 450 performances starring over 100 emerging Cantonese opera artists during 2012-15.

Shen Tiemei
As Vice-chairman of the Chinese Theatre Association and President of Chongqing Chuan Theatre, Shen Tiemei is a leading Chuanju performing artist who is honoured as Representative Bearer of An Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chuanju at National Level. Her many accolades include the Wenhua Performance Award presented by the Ministry of Culture as well as her three-time winning of the Chinese "Drama Plum Blossom Prize". Endowed with a mellow voice and beautiful articulation, Shen is deemed the “First Chuanju vocalist” of the opera genre. Over the years she has performed in Italy, the Netherland, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Korea and the US as part of her cultural exchange tours to promote Chuanju to the world. Her acclaimed work "Phoenix Pavilion (Feng Yi Ting)” was highly-praised by international media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times on its debut at the Lincoln Center in 2012. The Chinese Ministry of Culture commended her for “bridging the gap between traditional culture and global culture”. In June 2015, Shen’s new chamber opera "Si Fan", which premiered at the Holland Festival, won critical acclaim from the local art sector and media, as well as former Queen Beatrix of Holland. The wonderful performance of “Si Fan” has been rated 4-star by leading Dutch newspaper NRC HANDELSBLAD.