The New Tang Dynasty International Chinese Vocal Competition presents vocal artists with a challenge they rarely can find elsewhere: to sing Chinese songs in the bel canto style. The unique competition is a true test of a vocalist’s skills.
Sponsored by NTD Television, which broadcasts the semifinal and final rounds to an audience that can reach millions, the competition’s mission is “to promote traditional vocal arts of pure authenticity, pure goodness, and pure beauty, and provide a world arena for all Chinese vocalists to showcase their talents.”
The 2021 competition boasts an impressive panel of judges. Vocalists from the premier performing arts company Shen Yun Performing Arts have been invited to sit on the jury including world renowned tenor Guimin Guan, soprano Min Jiang, soprano Haolan Geng, tenor Tian Ge, and baritone Qu Yue.
The application period has begun and instructions can be found on the competition’s website (www.Vocal.NTDTV.com), and the deadline for submissions is Sept. 23.
Preliminaries, semifinals, and finals take place on Oct. 8, Oct. 9, and Oct. 10 respectively, at a premier venue New York, and will be broadcast live. Contestants will perform, with a piano accompanist, an aria from a Western opera as well as Chinese songs from a shortlist of 15 pieces.
This year marks the eighth cycle of the NTD International Chinese Vocal Competition.
Haolan Geng, one of the judges, encouraged vocalists from mainland China to sign up for the international competition, because in China there is rarely a chance to perform on the world’s stage. She encouraged these artists to participate in this big event in New York, showcase their talent, and learn from artists around the world.
“Get to know more outstanding people in all aspects,” she said, adding that she hoped the artists would be inspired to learn and improve from this experience with each other.
Vocalists age 18 to 50 are encouraged to apply, whether they are professional vocalists, instructors, students, or talented enthusiasts. Though it is a Chinese competition, the competition notes that vocalists of at least one-fourth Chinese ancestry can also apply.
Tenor Alvin Tan, a 2009 contestant, said “This competition is for Chinese people all over the world and I think that’s what attracted me.”
“I think a true artist serves the music and not him or herself,” Tan said.
Mezzo-soprano Lee Yu from the 2009 competition said, “Arts are related to a person’s personal experience.”
“For me, technical improvement has a limit, yet inspiration is unlimited. One might sing the same song differently at different ages, because he or she would have a different understanding of the song,” she said.
Judge Qu Yue was a 2007 winner of the competition, and now a vocalist with Shen Yun. He spoke of the encouraging camaraderie artists shared over the course of the competition, rather than conflicted competition.
“This is an opportunity to learn and improve,” he told NTD. “It is not easy to get such an opportunity overseas, so I signed up for this vocal competition. During the competition, I asked other artists, from all rounds, if you sing this song, how do you deal with it? Then, I took their suggestions and practiced. When I went on stage, I felt very calm and at peace. It was a very beneficial experience as an artist.”