by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Italian audiences were treated to the melody of the pipa, or Chinese lute, as played by Chinese contemporary musicians in a theater here decorated with ancient Chinese paintings.
In the Italian capital on Thursday evening, the musicians brought all the charm and poetry of the traditional Chinese arts to fill one of Italy's most prestigious music temples: the Santa Cecilia Conservatory.
Zhao Cong -- the principal pipa player of the China National Traditional Orchestra -- and her fellow artists offered to a mixed Italian-Chinese audience an intriguing musical experiment combining Chinese ancient music and figurative art.
Promoted by the Chinese Embassy, the Bureau for External Cultural Relations of the Chinese Culture Ministry, and the Conservatory of Music Academy Santa Cecilia, the event allowed spectators to enjoy the music of traditional instruments that are rarely heard, and even less known, in Italy.
The show was also meant to highlight the relevance of the cultural ties and exchanges between Italy and China, and their respective artistic disciplines.
"The Santa Cecilia Academy looks to the Far East with great interest, also because many of our students come from that part of the world, and especially from China," Santa Cecilia Conservatory director Roberto Giuliani told the audience.
In fact, the conservatory has pupils from 53 different countries, and Chinese students represent the largest group amongst them.
Musicians performed a four-instrument interpretation of "Spring Night on a Moonlit River" inspired by the ancient verses of poet Zhang Ruoxu of the early Tang dynasty. Here, Chinese traditional instruments harmonized with the "Western" sound of the piano.
As music reverberated through the hall, the painting "Viewing Plum Blossoms by Moonlight" by famous landscape painter Ma Yuan -- dated to the late 12th and early 13th century -- was screened on the stage.
Throughout the concert, each song was accompanied by a different work of art. The task of selecting traditional paintings to match the musical compositions was entrusted to Chinese artist He Jialin, director of the creation and research department of the China National Academy of Painting.
The idea of associating the two different forms of art was an effort to better reach out to the audience, according to Zhao.
"Music is a very abstract form of art," the musician explained.
"We believed combining it with the art of image -- with paintings able to convey the same feelings of the music -- could be a good way to increase understanding among the public."
Along with Zhao, three other distinguished artists performed in the show: Feng Mantian on the zhongruan -- or "moon guitar" -- Ding Xiaokui on the Chinese flute, and Liu Xingchen on the piano.