Albeit being dull and rainy outside, a slew of music enthusiasts gathered at Shenzhen Concert Hall in Futian District last night for the opening ceremony and gala concert of the 2019 Shenzhen Belt & Road International Music Festival.

From today through April 14, over 800 prominent artists from more than 40 countries and regions around the world will be putting on 21 high-end concerts at major theaters across the city for the music festival.

Belt & Road Music Festival
Photo: Belt & Road Music Festival, Shenzhen – China.

The gala concert was a truly global music banquet where artists from diverse cultures from home and abroad jointly delivered a brilliant performance, echoing the theme, “Connecting China to the World.”

Nine-time Grammy Award-winner Wynton Marsalis and bassist with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Carlos Henriquez, kicked off the concert with an improvised trumpet solo performance. In fact, this was Marsalis’ second performance in Shenzhen.

Belt & Road Music Festival
Photo: Belt & Road Music Festival, Shenzhen – China.

On Saturday, Marsalis had a performance with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Shenzhen Poly Theater, where they played not only classical jazz programs, like “Milestones,” but also two Chinese style pieces, namely “Monkey King” and “Li Bai,” an eminent poet in ancient China.

“We want to bring the sound of jazz, which is the sound of personal freedom, to this year’s Shenzhen Music Festival. Besides, the spirit of working together and recognizing the freedom in other people and remaining optimistic no matter what happens and how bad something is,” Marsalis told the Shenzhen Daily before Saturday’s show.

Following Marsalis, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra played the piece, “Festival Overture” by Dmitri Shostakovich.

British music prodigy Alma Deutscher also gave a stunning performance in the opening concert. Cantonese opera artists Huang Weikun, Angel Leung and Zeng Xiaomin also graced last night’s show with high-end performance.

Belt & Road Music Festival
Photo: Belt & Road Music Festival, Shenzhen – China.

Sergio Sandi performed a piece, “Starry Sky for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra,” composed by Ye Xiaogang, chairman of the Chinese Musicians’ Association.

Additionally, Vietnam’s Suc Song Moi Bamboo Ensemble and Geo Folk Tour brought exotic performances featuring their ethnic characteristics.

The festival also received congratulations from a distinguished foreign guest, Francesco Bandarin, special adviser to the UNESCO Director-General. Bandarin said in a letter of congratulations to the music festival that

Belt & Road Music Festival
Photo: Belt & Road Music Festival, Shenzhen – China.

“Shenzhen is a member of UNESCO Creative Cities Network, with culture and creativity the soul of the city’s urban development. It has achieved marvellous results in its cultural and creative programs, which have added a new charm to this vibrant young metropolis.”

In response to China’s Belt & Road Initiative, as well as part of the city’s plan to develop cultural innovations, this year’s festival has received great musicians from various fields, such as classical, jazz, traditional and solo.