China holds first Buddhist symphony concert

Xinhua, April 18, 2006

SHANGHAI, China -- With a wooden Qing, a traditional Chinese percussion instrument, striking the first note, a Buddhist symphony concert unfolded in a concert hall in Shanghai for the first time in China.

The bass drum beat amid violins, flutes and the harp, intermittently punctuated by chanting from monks dressed in yellow and red cassocks.

Following the First World Buddhist Forum which ended on Sunday in Zhoushan city in east China's Zhejiang Province, the concert was presented by China's Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra to an audience from over 30 countries and regions.

Over 1,000 Buddhist monks and experts attended the April 13-16 forum to discuss how to build a harmonious world. The concert on "Chinese Harmonious Music" was designed to use all sorts of musical instruments to express the glamour of Buddhist music as Buddhism believes music is a way of preaching, cultivation and deliverance.

"It was amazing," said Ven. Andhanavira from Indonesia. "The concert is a symbol of harmony that combines traditional Chinese Buddhist and western styles."

Before enjoying the music pageant in the evening, the monks and scholars first had a boat trip to Huangpu River, which is flanked by the country's most well-known skyscrapers including the 420.5-meter-tall Jinmao Tower, home to many multinationals.

They also rode the country's first magnetic suspension train and had a bird's eye view of the financial hub of the Bund over the 468-meter-tall Oriental Pearl TV Tower, all landmarks of China's rapid economic growth in the past two decades.

"The forum offers a platform for different people to know more about China. And when we return home, we will help more people to learn about China," said Dra. S. Hartati Murdaya, president of the Indonesian Buddhist Council Association.

Over the past four days, the monks, whatever their nationalities, races or sects, joined in discussions under the theme of "a harmonious world begins in the mind", a lantern transmission ceremony and rituals to pray for world peace.

"We hope the forum will act as a bridge to connect people who believe in Buddhism and work for peace and harmony," said Master Mingsheng, vice-president of China's Buddhist Association.