Wales pitches for Chinese students

Wales pitches for Chinese students


norman lebrecht

June 10, 2021

No hiding it in this press release:

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is honoured to welcome Maestro Xu Zhong, Conductor, Musician, Opera Producer and Educator as its inaugural International Chair in Opera representing Asia.

One of the most internationally renowned Chinese pianists and conductors, Xu Zhong is currently President of Shanghai Opera House, Principal Director of Fondazione Arena di Verona, Chief Conductor of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, and Dean of Soochow University School of Music. He has worked as the Artistic Director and the Chief Conductor of Teatro Massimo Bellini and as the Music Director and the Chief Conductor of Israel Haifa Symphony Orchestra. He has just been announced as the external expert observer of BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World 2021.

This appointment allows the College to benefit from Xu Zhong’s knowledge, insight and artistry, enhancing the collaboration between music and drama across performance and production and supporting the development of opera as an increasingly global art form. Alongside this it will support RWCMD’s journey towards diversity and further the relationship between Wales and China, Europe and the rest of the world.


  • John Borstlap says:

    The problem with administering the ‘diversity label’ to people and activities is, that it stimulates groupthink and wokespeak, which pushes the individual back into the group – he/she is first and foremost representing a group – which is diminishing his/her individuality and thus, humanity. Mr Zhong will be seen as a Chinese first, and his personality and personal capacities will be overshadowed, to the people who think diversity thinking is important. After all, it is irrelevant that he is a Chinese, he is supposedly not in Wales because of his nationality but because of his capacities. They should only mention the latter.

    Also, this wokespeak stimulates awareness about differences instead of inclusiveness. People find it much easier to ‘include’ an individual person for individual reasons: character, temperament, manners, language. Wokespeak and diversity mongering create barriers. It is so sad that it seems that hardly anybody is aware of this.

    • Al Dorian says:

      I see you pick up the new phrases, such as “wokespeak” and “groupthink” from your group really fast.

      • John Borstlap says:

        That’s group think, you see?

        I know, it’s difficult.

        I will first discuss with my group before I come back with a more individual reaction.

      • Ashu says:

        [I see you pick up the new phrases, such as “wokespeak” and “groupthink” from your group really fast.]

        Oh, clever. I suppose he should have striven to be true to his individualistic doctrine by coining new terms from Sumerian. Everyone’s a hypocrite.

  • Bill says:

    What’s the problem?

  • fflambeau says:

    Many universities “welcome” Chinese students because they pay lots more than locals. The hope is probably that the Chinese opera director will draw more Chinese students who can pay lots of $$$$.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Foreign students paying more is not new. At the RNCM in the ’80s, British students paid £500 p.a. for the Professional Performers’ course, foreign students paid £4000 p.a for the same thing.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Today, German conservatories are flooded with Chinese students on scholarships or from wealthy families, and it has become big business. For numerous Chinese people, European classical music is the greatest cultural discovery of the age, and they send their children to the heartland of the art form to get it from the horse’s mouth. One only hopes that the authorities in Bejing don’t decide that ideas from the 18C Enlightenment are smuggled-in with the music and put a stop on it.