Part of the Listen to This Audio Guide
The raw-edged music of Guo Wenjing (pp. 168-70) remains little known in the West, and recordings are scarce, but online you can find an excellent video of his percussion piece Parade by Oberlin Percussion:
There is also footage of Guo's Chou Kong Shan, for bamboo flutes and Chinese orchestra:
Yan Jun's recording of the "moment of silence" in honor of the Sichuan earthquake (p. 172):
Yan said to me, of life in Beijing: "You see the traffic lights change, but nobody cares, they drive through or cross the street anyway. There are many laws saying you can do this and you can do that, but people have their own rules. They have their way to share the power, find the relationship between safe and tough, keep the balance. Beijing people know this, they have this balance, but nobody writes it down."
An atmosphere of seeming freedom prevailed at Beijing's leading alternative-rock club, D22 (p. 171). It was founded by Michael Pettis, a longtime regular on New York's downtown scene and the founder of a club called Sin.
I was fortunate to see a performance by the gifted young guitarist and composer Zhang Shouwang (pp. 171-72), who also goes by the name of Jeff Zhang. Performing with him is Simon Frank, a teenager whose father was working at the Canadian embassy. There's a YouTube video of one of their performances, under the moniker Speak Chinese or Die.
Zhang plays in at least two bands, the experimental-leaning White and the more mainstream Carsick Cars. When I was in Beijing, Carsick Cars had won a following with a song called "Zhongnanhai" — a title that refers both to a local brand of cigarettes and, more riskily, to the Party leadership compound.
A casual performance of traditional Chinese music (pp. 172-73) in Jingshan Park:
A bamboo flutist, dressed in a park attendant's uniform, playing alone in the woods. He stopped when I approached.
A recording I made on one of my walks around Beijing:
One night I went to the Mei Lanfang Grand Theater for a performance of Peking opera. The auditorium was full, but the audience was noticeably older than the crowds I saw at the Egg; the youth element was largely absent.
Before the performance, I talked to three young performers, all of whom were in their twenties. In their hoodies and track pants, they looked like ordinary, Americanized Chinese youth, but when they spoke about their early immersion in Peking opera style, their years of training, the politics of the opera academies, and the struggle to establish the relevance of their work in modern China, they sounded very much like fresh Juilliard graduates who've spent too little time outside the practice room. The actor in the middle is Liu Kuikui.
The guqin player Wu Na (pp. 173-74) has blended the ancient tradition of the instrument with jazz and avant-garde techniques. Here she performs with Chanyuan Zhao and Vincent Royer (she is on the left):
A magnificent array of instruments for a performance at the Divine Music Administration, on the grounds of the Temple of Heaven (pp. 174-75):
A fragment of what I heard:
Alas, this wonderful museum of China's musical history does not seem to attract a crowd:
Some photographs on this page were taken by Nick Frisch, who also served as my guide and translator in Beijing, and who was enormously helpful in the making of the article.