Fairy-tale Legend of the Golden Mask Dynasty Show at Beijing’s OCT Theatre

Visitors who wish to explore Beijing’s theatre culture beyond its more popular offerings of Peking Opera or Kungfu productions, can visit the OCT (Overseas Chinese Town) Theatre located at Beijing Happy Valley – the biggest amusement park in the Beijing known for its dreamy landscapes, comprising of famous themed sections like the Wild Fjord, Atlantis, Lost Maya and more!

The Golden Mask Dynasty Show is an original and large-scale Chinese musical drama attracting thousands of visitors each year. It involves a huge production cast of more than 200 local and international actors, and features the 200- million-yuan triple storey moving stage OCT was known to have invested for the play. It tells the story of the Queen of the Golden Mask Dynasty – a legendary age of China’s history, through eight respective chapters titled War, Farming, Forging of metal, Ceremonies, The Moon, Floods, Fetes and Illusions. The production also comprises of 20 different dance scenes, ranging from themes on traditional Chinese culture, war, to love, as it chronicles the Queen’s attempts to forge a prosperous and peaceful kingdom amidst the numerous adversities she was presented. The Golden Mask Dynasty Show is also an artistic expression of an ancient romance tale, as it illustrates the falling in love of the Queen with the ruler of a neighbouring kingdom, the Blue Mask King, who had previously attempted to invade the Queen’s kingdom, but did not successfully do so.

The audience can expect a captivating theatre production with an incredibly realistic stage backdrop, spectacular gymnastics effects of its crew members, and an array of rich costumes inspired by the Sanxing Mound relics as donned by the actors and actresses. Famous local musicians like Liu Gangbao and Li Cangsang were also involved in the production’s theme song’s composition. One particular interesting scene that viewers can anticipate is the monstrous flooding scene, illustrated by the man-made waterfall created with the use of the triple-storey moving stage. Witness the unforeseen catastrophe which saw the eventual self-sacrifice of the Queen, as she abided by the guidance of a mysterious tree spirit to bring about peace and harmony for her homeland. Alas, the flood subsided, and the people of the kingdom were rescued as the Golden Mask Queen bided farewell to the Blue Mask King. Being turned into a golden sacred sunbird after her demise, the play ends with the Queen flying in the sky above her kingdom, blessing the well-being of her people and dynasty.

The Golden Mask Dynasty Show is overall an inspiring and moving poetic production which should not be missed by any Chinese theatre enthusiasts. Visit the OCT Theatre at 17:30 or 19:30, where it is staged daily, for an evening of fairy-tale theatre enjoyment while you are at Beijing Happy Valley today!

Best regards,
Freddy Freeman


The Musical Tone of Xi’an, China

One of my latest discoveries of magical Chinese travel destinations is the ancient capital of Xi’an. While it is far from unknown already to about a million foreign visitors per year, as well as a staggering 30 million Chinese visitors. After Shanghai and Beijing, this is the third most considered “must-see” destination on those who have the the few extra days to spend. Although quite far, located in the western parts of China it is easy to access by high speed train from all major cities. Also there is an international airport with direct flights from many corners of the world. And best of all, it’s not as crowded as many of the bigger cities, even the air is much cleaner in beautiful Xi’an.

Wondering the streets, I haven’t seen many musical performances. Instead, you have to go and look for them from one of the many Tang Dynasty style theaters that have the most amazing plays. The one that caught my particular attention is the one in Tang Dynasty Show. However, there seems to be several options from many different theaters scattered around the city. Some of which claim to have the Tang Dynasty Show, and then there are others, such as Thirteen Dynasties and A Song of Everlasting Sorrow which is located in the outskirts of the city. The best website to make your pick of the performance you want to see for the night is Show Xian: a nightlife guide with loads of good information.

The stories are incredible and you can really dive into the ancient world of dynasties and emperors. Many of which are already very famous tales for the Chinese. But as a musician what gripped me the most was the traditional live orchestra that accompanied the whole performance. Situated in two floors besides the performing stage, there were a few dozen of participants in the orchestra. With some of the most interesting instruments heavy on the strings. Sometimes creating soft ballads, or even hard war scenes were well managed by the group. And you can even purchase the soundtrack of the show afterwords which is a must.

The other place worth visiting in Xi’an, is the Terracotta Army which depicts the army of Qin Shi Huang. A massive funerary art piece that leaves you gasping for air. For it’s shear size as well as the mystical atmosphere. After that you have a chance to the Huaqing Hot Springs to relax and stay for the night before going back to the city to play. If you are lucky enough you can catch the impressive Song of Everlasting Sorrow here. Although it is mostly catered towards the Chinese and has many scenes in the Chinese language. I will definitely make put it on my list of things to do during my next visit to Xi’an.

Not to mention, what tops of any active day is along foot massage. They use acupuncture points in the soles of your feet that might sometimes hurt. But trust me, it’s all good for you and opens up locks in your body.. making you feeling all strange from the relaxing sensation. I hope that my experience has been a helpful introduction to this wonderful city, that will make others to consider this musical destination of my Chinese dreams..

Best regards,
Freddy Freeman


Lights, Music & Action: The Liyuan Theatre Opera Show!

Beijing’s National Opera dates back to 1790, when opera troupes from Anhui province performed at the Qing Court. Today opera is still immensely popular among the Chinese and for foreign visitors to this beautiful country. The performance is delightfully humorous and shows traditional Beijing culture. The performers use ambitious intricacy and style.

In 1928 local opera troupes merged together, influenced by Beijing dialect and drew on the artistic styles of other local operas, combining to create a unique form of Chinese opera, “Beijing Opera”. This started during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng in the 1850s. The Beijing Opera institute now enjoys high popularity both in China and abroad.

Beijing Opera is a mix of artistic expressions of the Chinese nation, a complex blend of music, singing, recitations, dancing, fine art, martial arts and acrobatics. Symbolism can be hugely exaggerated, with a stage bare of scenery, and only the artists’ bodily movements to tell the story. Holding a horse whip means riding a horse, and an oar means sailing a boat. Time is shown in the knocking of a night bell, and a change in backdrop is done freely. The masks show characteristics of the person, such as temper, personality and age. The colours of the masks have meanings, such as red meaning sincere, and purple meaning honest. This is an outstanding feature of Beijing Opera.

The story is told in 4 repertoires and accompanied by a musical performance that is very traditional. Farewell My Concubine tells a romantic tragedy about the King of Han, who knew he was going to lose the war. His concubine danced for him but did not want to become a burden in the war, so committed suicide. The Crossroads is about Jiao Zan, who was exiled to an island his protector followed him. The owner of his guesthouse thinks the protector is there to kill Jiao, and they fight until Jiao comes to clear up the misunderstanding. A Bird in A Cage is about a mother and son, separated during a war. The son later married a princess, and his understanding wife helped him to find his mother. Drunken Beauty occurs in the Tang dynasty. Emperor Tang rejects concubine Yang, and in her disappointment she becomes very drunk.

Liyuan Theatre is the most prestigious performance venue of Beijing opera, well known for it’s music and acting. The traditional performance stage, the unique facial make-up, and the traditional Baixian table seating 8 people. The theatre has 1000 seats and before the performance the make-up rooms of the artists may be viewed. The show is translated into English and Japanese, and has English subtitles.

Each year 300 thousand visitors enjoy the brilliance of the show, and foreign leaders and officials have been known to show their presence here. Visitors enjoy the waiters and waitresses in traditional Tang suits pouring tea through long-mouthed tea pots. Before or after the performance, you may enjoy Chinese delicacies at the Chinese Restaurant.

The show begins at 7.30pm and ends at 9pm every day. Discount tickets are available from their official website linked to on this article.


Using HideMyAss to Listen to any Global Radio Station

Have you ever witnessed a sound, so wonderful that it gave you inspiration to become something different. Perhaps a tune that gave you something new in life, a resource to make a difference. This happened to me at least, and often enough while traveling and listening to a new sound environment. While a lot of it has got to do with music, there are also all kinds of other “daily living” sounds that make up the atmosphere of a travel destination. As many of you know, I love traveling to Asia, and especially to a great wonderful country such as China. Well. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Beijing or Shanghai but that doesn’t mean that I cannot still experience that feeling of enlightenment.

Probably many people can relate to having associations through sound. Ones that take you to a far away land and absolutely transform you to beautiful bits. Do you know what I mean? Well, I have discovered a way to revisit those moments I had. Not just by listening to musical albums I have bought at those locations, but by tuning to local radio stations in especial. But even though thanks to the internet, we are living in a global world.. but it doesn’t mean that there are no boundaries. In fact, with increased technological development online, there are more and more ways to restrict musical content for example. This time, I just couldn’t access all the Chinese internet radio stations I wanted because my IP address was foreign. For this I discovered that a VPN can do the trick and give me not only unrestricted access but also the IP address of any country I wanted. I have to be honest and tell you that I was on a budget, but I needed a good service that has many servers in different countries in the world. Then I found the long waited HideMyAss Discount, which is one of the most awesome VPN services I have known and I wanted it so much! In fact, I went through so many articles that were offering all kinds of discount coupon codes for the VPN service, but they were all just fake. Finally this link gave me clear and honest instructions of how to get it for almost half the price.

And what a funny name too. Hide my ass you know! =)

This really was an incredible offer, just when you compare with the absolutely huge amount of IP addresses from basically any country in the world you can get. All with one VPN account, now isn’t that amazing? Either way, now I can listen to any radio station anywhere in the world.. and I feel like I am traveling again, all from the comforts of my own home.. both bedroom, living room and even my toilet. Boundaries are once again limitless, just like the nature of music and sound itself. When these forces of nature are not restricted in any way, we can enjoy them the most.

I don’t know if this was new for you or not. But for me, utilizing HideMyAss was like a blessing, and a new novel discovering. Plus that you can get a really big discount of course! =)

It’s great to be back to blogging after a while. Taking it easy nowadays, listening to the beautiful notes that originate from the vocal cords of my wife. That’s the brilliance of family life!

Best regards and see you next time dear readers,

Freddy Freeman, “The Musical Tone Man”.


Acrobatic Theatre Music At Shanghai Centre

The music in performances is a fascinating world, be it theatre, opera or even acrobatics. Earlier I gave my look on the acrobatic show in Beijing, which was a ball. This time, I have visited the proud city of Shanghai and one of their most famous acrobatic venues. This superb theatre, known as the Shanghai Centre Theatre is one of the central activities of the city theatre scene. In fact, one of the oldest acrobatic troupes in the whole of China, known as the “Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe” performs there.

Naturally I was honoured to be invited to such an invent, and was looking forward to the musical tones of the performance as well as the stunts themselves. Indeed, it was worth it to dress up, since the stage light up with world class acting. The acrobatic show was extremely entertaining, where even the audience could take part.

While the excitement was on the roof during the play, it would have been nothing without the tremendously intense and mesmerising music that was performed throughout the performance. The selection and musical taste of the production team was just spot on and added so much value to the show.

There were many ups and downs in mood, as well as anything from happy even circus-like moments as well as dark and gloomy ones. However, what is unusual to see in China, which is a theatre scene not afraid to experiment and to show a wide variety of atmosphere during a performance.. was that the changes between the different scenes were very smooth and well done. So despite the tremendous variety in stage play, it all blended into a whole, firm unity. This was, for the most part thanks to the music that guided the audience through the amazing spectacle.

The feats were incredible with one of my favourites being the one where the audience is put to the test and in front of thrown knives. Never seen such a thing.. and I can tell you, that during that scene music was played very quietly to create extreme suspension!

Well worth a watch and highly recommended for those who are looking for some night life activities in Shanghai.

Thanks for reading and see you next time.

Yours truly,

Freddy Freeman


Mainstream Party Pooper 2000

I’ve often wondered.. what is it about main stream music. Why it’s something so big and why people are so confident to share it with everyone. Because people asume that everyone likes main stream music, after all, it’s mainstream!

Take Korea for example.. They have managed to brainwash the media totally, leaving people to think that all there is, is K-Pop. There is a huge underground music culture in Korea and it’s blooming better than ever because of the strong main stream movement. There always needs to be balance with opposites.

The fact is, that those who go main stream just don’t party as hard as those who don’t. While there might not be anything wrong with that, I certainly feel that having an irregular taste in music does increase the stimulation of your brain cells.

Going underground is not just about music, but it gives you insights about life.. and you learn wonderful things about this world. Commercial interests only lead you to more commercial interest.. it’s a cycle and it does not end well.

So I encourage everyone who is reading this to challenge their musical taste and most importantly challenge their selves!

Boicot the “Party Pooper 2000” 😛


Finnish Children’s Songs Are A Blast

One thing you should know if you didn’t know it already, is that I am full of surprises. Mainly because there is almost no limit to the range of topics that I can talk about or I am interested in. Lately, I’ve put some focus to children’s music as well as toys. Mainly thanks to my dear Finnish friend and mother, Emma Laine.

I sincerely thank her for providing me with some of the most enchanting children’s tunes I’ve ever heard. Namely those of Laura Latvala, Marjatta Pokela and last but not least a classic from Finland known as Tapio Rautavaara.

What I’ve noticed that unlike other countries, Finland has produced a lot of popular songs without that much of an influence from the overseas market. Perhaps it’s the northern proximity, isolated by sea and bordering Russia that has kept some of the traditions so unique in some respect. Music is a big part of children’s lives in Finland and it’s a way for youngsters to connect with their roots.

Despite not having much success in the Eurovision contest and some thinking that it’s because of the language.. I think that Finnish is a beautiful singing language. In fact I have memorised “hämä-hämähäkki” so I can play it together with the guitar. With that you can surely amaze not just kids but adults as well!

Anyway, much greetings to Emma and I’m looking forward to many musical sessions in the near future.

Kiitos paljon!


The Best Music Ever

Often I hear the question, what do you think is your favorite genre in music or band? For someone who is a dedicated fan of a particular artist, its an easy answer. Anyone with a broad taste in music might have to think a while to produce an answer.

Of course most of the the time the question more or less implies to simply understanding music that you like. Be it many, you could just say something that you recently listened to for example.

But there are options beyond difficult or easy answers.. I for one decided to take this as a challence and provide an actually interesting answer. While this was something facinating for myself, non-surprisingly a lot of the people who asked me that were not that interested. But they got what they asked for is what I thought.

So what’s my answer to the question.. Toecutter. Reason is that there is no music quite like it. You see, most of the songs completely change every 5-20seconds in average. Not just the beat but the whole song. This means that when you here something you like, you know that it will end in just a few seconds even though you would like to hear more of that song.

For many, this might sound rather annoying but it provides an interesting alternative to “comfortable spaces” that music often produce. Everything needs to be learned to like. Just like coffee, Toecutter is the same. It’s one of the greatest musical achievements in the history of mix productions.

When you let go of the thought that you would like to hear more of a certain beat for example, you don’t enter into a state of trance. Instead you will sort of distance yourself from the music and watch it from the distance.

Acceptance is the key and once you do that, you are able to see the music how it is. Without inserting your objections, desires or anything that would manipulate the experience into your fitting.

Try it out, Toecutter is the best music in the world. Just because there is no such thing!!


Chinese Music is All About Entertainment

In China, traditionally a lot of the music was accompanied with entertaining acts such as dance performances, acrobatics, kung fu, comedy. Depending on the act, different instruments were used.

A pleasant surprise I encountered however was the music used in acrobatic performance such as this Beijing acrobatic show. The acts with high-paced and the tension was extremely high.. namely due to the accompanied orchestra with their intense percussions and after bowed string instruments that sued down the nerves.

It kind of reminded me of Chinese opera except that what I was seeing was acrobatic traits. Colors surrounded the stage and spectators.. dance was added in between the acts. With only a hint of electronic sound added this was mostly a folk music experience.. the Chinese way.

The theatre itself, known as Chaoyang Theatre is a spectacle in itself. Now improvement in the acoustics had been made ever since this historical theater building was built. Somehow all this was essential to the experience. In brand new theater facilities traditional Chinese music just doesn’t sound the same.

Perhaps it depends on the entertainment but acrobatic shows are not such polished acts in China. From my experience if they try too hard, things just get too cheesy. Better to hold on to tradition and tolerate some of the dinginess which you can actually learn to like.


The Chinese Just Love to Dance

I recently saw this video and could not help being inspired. Knowing China well enough, this is really true. Wherever you go.. mostly in the evening you can see groups of people dancing. In front of shopping malls, super markets, parks.. just about anywhere!

This is truly a magnificent way for people to get together, enjoy dancing and music. Looking at such activity makes you think that these people really must be happy. Dance is the way to go!