At least eight professors and staff members of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music died due to a COVID spike that started in December last year and continued into January 2023. The deaths included three Chinese Communist Party (CCP) branch secretaries.
On Jan. 24, Sha Hankun, a former deputy secretary of the party branch and deputy head of the composition department of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, died at the age of 96 at the Zhongshan Hospital affiliated with Fudan University in Shanghai due to “illness,” said the official obituary, which, as per usual practice, avoided mentioning the COVID-induced death.
Sha is not alone. In January, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music released a string of obituaries, involving associate professor Qin Youfei, former party secretary of the piano department, who died on Jan. 8 at Xuhui District Central Hospital at the age of 88; Zhou Lude, former associate professor of the department of composition and conduct, who died on Jan. 7 at Zhongshan Hospital at the age of 93; Chen Dawei, former branch secretary of the orchestra department died on Jan. 4 at Shanghai Chest Hospital at the age of 85; and Weng Zhen, former director of the department of the armed forces and director of the security department, passed away on Jan. 3 at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital at the age of 92.
The prestigious institution also announced the deaths of Xu Erli, a former cadre of the logistics and security division, who passed away on Dec. 22, 2022, at Ganquan Community Health Service Center at the age of 76; Zhou Guiping, a former staff member of the Logistics and Security Department of Shanghai Conservatory of Music, died at 18:57 on Dec. 23, 2022, at Shanghai Huashan Hospital at the age of 64; and Jin Chuancheng, former associate professor of the orchestra department, who passed away on Dec. 28 at Huashan Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai at the age of 95.
Shanghai Conservatory of Music, formerly known as the National Conservatory of Music, was founded on Nov. 27, 1927, in the Kuomintang era. But after the CCP took power, its name was changed to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1956 and is now controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Shanghai Municipality.
The Shanghai Conservatory of Music served as a propaganda tool of the CCP. For example, it consigned composers to write the violin concerto “Long March” and the symphony “Chasing Dreams on the Silk Road” to promote the so-called Long March, a military retreat of the CCP in the 1930s, and One Belt, One Road, a Xi Jinping-led infrastructure scheme outside China.
The official website says that the conservatory organizes various concerts every year in more than 20 countries on world-class platforms to spread the voice of the CCP. Its major research topics have been awarded by the National Social Science Foundation, major projects by the National Social Science Foundation for the Arts, and projects by the National Cultural Innovation Project.
Since the end of 2022, a new outbreak of COVID-19 has engulfed China, with the academic system, official organs, and the literary circles being hit the hardest. A spate of obituaries of professors and officials, as well as experts, scholars, and celebrities, frequently appear in the press.