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Senior musicians lure crowds in Harbin

Updated : 2023-07-12

By ( Xinhua )

Against the backdrop of bustling traffic and intermittent honking, a group of seniors, each clutching their respective instruments, mesmerized onlookers with passionate melodies, Xinhua reported.
Amid pleasantly cool temperatures and delightful acoustics beneath an overpass, the amateur orchestra has transformed an area the size of half a basketball court into a "concert hall" in the city of Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province.
Established in 2009, the band has grown from just three members to more than 40, with ages ranging from 50 to over 80.
According to Wang Hui, the band's conductor, a majority of the members are retirees who have joined with a rudimentary knowledge of music that they acquired through self-learning.
"The audience yearns for this type of spiritual and cultural experience, while the performers themselves derive spiritual enjoyment from delivering it," she said.
During the performance, hostess Liu Lihua often thanks the enthusiastic audience for their appreciation and gifts. Some people even come from more than 10 kilometers away to watch their performances.
"Many people provide us with water and other supplies, and they support us immensely," said Liu.
"Over the years, we feel a responsibility toward the audience."
The band performs three times a week from May to October every year and does rehearsals in winter. Though they are amateurs, there is no sign of carelessness in terms of musical arrangements, instruments or costumes.
To improve the quality of the performances, the band has not only installed lighting under the overpass but has also prepared multiple sets of clothing. During important festivals, they dress uniformly for themed concerts.
"We are not paid. What we are doing is simply our hobby," said Liu Jun, head of the band.
Because of its proximity to Russia, Harbin had early access to European classical music. It is also home to one of China's oldest orchestras, the Harbin Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 1908. In 2010, the United Nations recognized Harbin as a "music city".
With the arrival of summer, the enchanting melodies of beautiful music can frequently be heard echoing through the streets and alleys of Harbin.
As night fell, the orchestra played its final piece, the Radetzky March. The audience clapped to the rhythm of the music, while the hostess walked around and shook hands with spectators to express gratitude.
"The audience is our driving force, and enjoying such a cultural life after retirement makes me feel very happy," said Wang Fuxin, 82, who used to work in the construction industry and is now the band's tuba player.

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