Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wonderful Wuhan

I'm in Wuhan in the 'middle' of China, for the day (!). It's a huge, sprawling megalopolis on the River Yangtze - mass construction going on everywhere, usual Tier 2 city story. Gecko's The Overcoat is playing tonight, the first major UK theatrical production to be staged here since... ever? So we invited Wuhan's arts cognoscenti to a dinner, to start forging serious links.

But before that there was time to visit Hubei Museum and Hubei Art Museum. The former's main attractions are the contents of the tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng who ruled the area 2,400 years ago - roughly the time of Confucius. Aside from the usual array of artefacts, wine, concubines etc buried with him (so far, so ancient Egypt), there was a Bianzhong. This was a massive musical instrument consisting of 65 bronze bells hung on a wooden frame in the shape of an L and struck with a mallet. There have been several unearthed around China but this is the biggest. A replica has been made and every morning at 11:30 a concert is performed on it, plus a Bianqing (stone chimes) and string instruments - see above. Fascinating.

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