¡Ole! Flamenco dancing, opera and Chinese music – a magical night in Madrid
Ken Browne in Madrid

Flamenco and Beijing Opera. The erhu and the violin, the pipa and the cello. Spain and China in symphony. 

It was a memorable night in Madrid with traditional instruments and dances from the East and West. The Chinese National Traditional Orchestra came to town to play with the local Madrid Symphony Orchestra – and the result was truly special.

Zhao Cong is the director of the China National Traditional Orchestra and praised Spain's world-famous musical traditions. 

"Spanish flamenco music and dance is loved around the world," she said. "When we combine it with Chinese folk music, with this ancient sound from China along with their dancing and the passionate Spanish guitars, the result is an amazing spectacle."


Zhao Cong has helped showcase traditional Chinese music in over 50 countries. She also performed her own composition Rose Tango on the night, her pipa in perfect harmony with the violins and cellos of the Madrid orchestra.

"Two countries who want to make art and music. It's beautiful for me," she added.

Another highlight on an evening of highlights was the operatic performance by soprano Estibaliz Martyn.

She sang in Castellano and Mandarin, performing the traditional Chinese classic I love you China to a lengthy applause, before treating the crowd to an extra impromptu a capella performance.


CGTN caught up with her before the concert and she said: "I sing opera, but the sound with a traditional Chinese orchestra, it's different.

"Two countries that want to make music, to make art to celebrate the 50-year anniversary between China and Spain with diplomatic relationship. This is beautiful for me, this is beautiful as an artist."

Other highlights included Zhang Xinyue, a renowned Beijing Opera performer whose Drunken Concubine interpretation was another crowd favorite.

Soprano Estibaliz Martyn and Zhao Cong performed in Madrid. /CGTN Europe
Soprano Estibaliz Martyn and Zhao Cong performed in Madrid. /CGTN Europe

Soprano Estibaliz Martyn and Zhao Cong performed in Madrid. /CGTN Europe

Zhang also spoke to CGTN and talked about the privilege of being able to showcase China's musical heritage in Spain and to be able to combine the two styles.

The Spanish classic Running of the Bulls, performed by both orchestras with Spanish flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez and dancers Pol Vaquero and Monica Fernandez, provided more memorable moments.

The event was one in a host of events happening this year across Spain and China to celebrate 50 years of official diplomatic relations between the two countries.

It came in the same week that the 'Terracotta Army' exhibition opened in Alicante, and also the same week that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited China on an official state visit.

And the evening of music in Madrid was a strong symbol of the desire for a harmonious relationship for the next 50 years and beyond.


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