Music without borders

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-22

Music without borders

Maria Nauen conducts the Beijing International Chamber Orchestra during a performance at the Canadian International School of Beijing. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

"The speed of the city is very fast, and new things are happening every day," she says. "You have to accept it, and you have to go deeper to its roots to understand it."

She explored the streets and was met with welcoming faces. Before long, she uncovered the "beautiful night life, beautiful cultural life, beautiful historical life" and all the opportunities in between.

However, orchestra music was not one of them.

"A symphony orchestra in China is a little bit complicated," she says. "You cannot get in without knowing somebody."

This was crippling creative expression, she thought.

"I met a lot of people in love with music who were longing for an experience they had in their native countries," Nauen says. "In Europe, in little towns, there are two, three, four local orchestras where people can come after work and express themselves. In China, nothing like this existed."

So she decided to create it, founding the Beijing International Chamber Orchestra in 2007.

The orchestra - "my baby" as she refers to it - includes professional musicians and amateurs alike. Its members range from 12 to 68 years old and hail from over 20 countries. Since its inception, the orchestra has grown from 15 to 75 members, welcoming Chinese, Japanese, Canadians, Australians and anyone else passionate about the cause.