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The 12 Girls' Band trendsetting with the classics

Boosted by the international popularity of The 12 Girls' Band, musical girl posses have been springing up across China.

The concept is the same: if you cannot make music that is pleasing to the ears, at least, make it pleasing to the eyes.

Few have caught enough attention to be considered a true sensation within China's cities, apart from the The 12 Girls' Band, seven-member Classical & Trendy plans to change that.

The name is bit of a parody itself, but the group can generally be described as fashionably classical. Comprised of five violinists and two flautists, the group aims to present classic music with a modern flavour.

Central to the septet's appeal are dance beats and, well, sex appeal. Appearing in publicity shots wearing skin-baring outfits, and strategically-placed instruments, their sales strategy is reminiscent of that employed by the Australian-British string quartet Bond.

Just as unconventional is the group's music, which weaves synthesisers, vocal samples and world music flavours with classical melodies. It's a purist's nightmare, but a dream come true for the twenty-something women to play instrumental music that is frenetic, emotional and simple.

Their music ranges from off-beat Chinese folk song "Jasmine" to Celin Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

Unlike Bond's creation by it four members, it was actually four veteran men musicians behind Classical & Trendy.

Early last year, Zhang Hongguang, one of China's most famous composers, happened to see a violinist playing while dancing.

"I thought it was a great way to present classical music," Zhang said. "Then I thought, if we could find two or more violinists like her, we could set up a group, that would be huge."

He shared his idea with violinist Li Peng, Manager of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, who showed immediate interest. Later, Huang Lijie, co-founder and chief conductor of the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra (APO), and violinist Qin Lang, also from the APO, joined the efforts.

They set up the septet in May, 2004. "I have been with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra for decades," said Li, now the agent of the septet. "I love classical music. But I don't think we are doing it well. People are reluctant to come to the theatre for our performances. I believe it is because of their fast-paced lifestyles. The orchestra is too classical to fit into their life.

"And there is the success of Bond. But we can have our own Bond."

Besides regular musical rehearsals, the septet also receive training on style and choreography. "Nowadays the way you present the music is becoming increasingly important," Zhang said.

Over the past year, the septet has toured around the country, playing everywhere from the opening ceremony of Shanghai's Formula 1 to CCTV's Spring Festival Gala.

They are currently preparing for the release of their debut CD. The women of the septet, all classically trained, decline to categorize their sound, noting the influences of rock, hip-hop and dance music. They hope they can help make classical music "coola" again.

Flautist Zhao Xiaoxiao, a graduate from the Central Academy of Music said: Ў°All seven of us are really open-minded to all kinds of music. The concept of Classical & Trendy is about breaking down barriers.

People's Daily Online

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