June 23rd, 2012


China's contemporary music scene takes off

Singer Helen Feng (R) of the band Nova Heart performs at the 2Kolegas live music venue in Beijing. (AFP/File - Ed Jones)

BEIJING: After decades struggling with official censorship, China's contemporary music scene is finally taking off, fuelled by live shows, the Internet and a government eager to cash in on a growing market.

Chinese indie bands came late to the music scene, largely missing out on the lucrative days of vinyl records, cassettes and compact discs, and also suffered enormously from state broadcasters' preference for pop.

But from rock to rap and hip hop to grunge, the independent music scene has blossomed in recent years as the Internet and an explosion in live venues have given an outlet to acts long shunned by state-run television and radio.

"Since I have been here, everything has changed," said Helen Feng, the lead singer of the electronica band Nova Heart who returned to her native Beijing in 2003 and has just finished a European tour.

"The changes in the music scene have been massive. Everything has gotten better, personal liberties have gone up, the numbers of bands have gone up, the numbers of venues have gone up, financial support has gone up, fans have gone up."

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Taiwan to be featured at Orioles home game on June 23

Washington, June 21 (CNA) Taiwan will be in the spotlight when the Baltimore Orioles host the Washington Nationals Saturday night, with Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen scheduled to start and the country's representative to the United States, Jason Yuan, scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

Chen, who pitched seven scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves in his last outing on June 17 to improve his record to 7-2, will start the second of the three-game interleague series between area rivals.

According to Yuan's office, Taiwan's representative to the U.S. will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Camden Yards at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, about 40 minutes before the start of the game.

The Kaohsiung native had his worst outing of the season when he faced the Nationals for the first time on May 20, giving up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, and he'll hope to do better on Saturday in front of a partisan crowd.

Several overseas Chinese groups in Washington said they plan to travel to Baltimore to cheer for Chen, who was recently dubbed "Chen-sational" by his teammate Adam Jones after the June 17 victory.

The 26-year-old left-hander, who pitched professionally in Japan before signing with the Orioles in the offseason, has an ERA of 3.36, and has allowed a respectable 1.29 walks and hits per inning pitched in his 13 appearances this season.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Kay Liu)