Up to 50,000 people are expected to attend the grand opening concert and ‘Arts for the People’ opening party on October 13th at the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts (Weiwuying) in Taiwan. Weiwuying’s Artistic Director, the conductor Chien Wen-Pin, will inaugurate the 1,981-seat concert hall and Asia’s largest pipe organ with a musical programme featuring Beethoven, Liszt and Taiwanese composers, performed by the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra and by ensembles and soloists from Taiwan and abroad. The outdoor ‘Arts for the People’ festivities will include aboriginal dance, traditional theatre, opera, street culture, music, and puppetry in an extravaganza staged by Germany’s artist network Phase 7, which led Berlin’s glittering celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The grand opening will give visitors a foretaste of Weiwuying’s Inauguration Season (October 13th 2018 – January 1st 2019) – in which Taiwan’s creative talents will rub shoulders with distinguished visitors from abroad.
Designed by Mecanoo, the extraordinary architecture of Weiwuying is inspired by the sinuous canopy of clustered banyan trees common to the region. The single sweeping building covers a surface area of 35 acres (141,000 sqm) and is set in the spectacular 116-acre (470,000 sqm) subtropical Weiwuying metropolitan park in the heart of Kaohsiung. It is the world’s largest performing arts centre under one roof and Taiwan’s most significant cultural investment in a generation. The building incorporates five state-of-the-art performance spaces: a 2,236-seat Opera House, a 1,981-seat Concert Hall, a 1,210-seat Playhouse, a 434-seat Recital Hall and an Outdoor Theater linking the building to the park.
Francine Houben: “A cultural building of enormous scope and prestige, Weiwuying is based on the local banyan tree with its open, protective shape. This tree inspired Banyan Plaza, a covered public space that captures the natural flow of the winds and where people dance, play music, perform plays, and practice Tai Chi. The four performance halls form the ‘trunks’ that support the undulating ‘crown’. The building is made by the local shipbuilding industry and has the detailing of a cargo ship with hoist points so that lights, banners and fabric can be hung and even hammock chairs in which children can swing.”
At 225 metres wide and 160 metres deep, Taiwan’s National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts ‘Weiwuying’ (after the park in which it sits) is an international performing arts building on a grand scale. Kaohsiung, once a major international harbour in the south of Taiwan, has steadily grown into a diverse, modern city with 3 million people and a rich cultural offer. The new National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts, located in a former military training base, symbolises Kaohsiung and Taiwan’s high ambitions for development and for connecting local and global talent through arts and culture.
Weiwuying’s Artistic Director, Chien Wen-Pin: “Something that overseas visitors to Weiwuying will encounter is the passion for theatre, dance, spectacle and music that is everywhere in Taiwan. Our audiences are extraordinarily enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I will continue to work with artists at home and abroad to uncover new ideas for programming that reflect the very best in contemporary practice. Weiwuying, with its extraordinary facilities, gives us the opportunity to experiment – to be bold and innovative, and to try different things.”
The October 2018 opening of the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts will complete Taiwan’s national umbrella organisation National Performing Arts Centre, which also includes Taipei’s National Theater and Concert Hall and the National Taichung Theater. The three flagship institutions will be home to Taiwan’s internationally renowned contemporary dance and theatre companies, Western- and Chinese-style orchestras, Peking, Taiwanese and Western opera troupes, hand puppet companies, Oscar and Golden Lion- winning filmmakers, Booker-nominated authors, Mando-pop stars and beyond.