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Building bridges

A world citizen on a mission: to bring Chinese musicians to Europe and to open the stage for European talents in China. Lady Linda Wong Davies builds bridges between two music and art continents.

Text:
Susanne von Meiss
Photos:
Julio Piatti
M

“My father gave me the love of music – a very generous gift.”

The flat in the most prestigious quarter of Paris mirrors its owner: exquisite, different, generous, tasteful, elegant, Western with Eastern touches or European with Chinese highlights – or vice versa. Lady LindaWong Davies is planning and arranging the last details of her latest coup: a concert by legendary Chinese pianist Lang Lang to be held in the historic, sublime Hall of Mirrors of Versailles – an event of unprecedented uniqueness. “Lang Lang is a dear friend and France showed great interest in Chinese culture very early on in history, thus acting as a pioneer in the cultural exchange with China.” When the petite lady, dressed in a smart designer dress and sporting big hair, explains, she has a radiant smile on her face. As founder and chairwoman of the KT Wong Foundation, Lady Linda Wong Davies knows what she is talking about. Since its founding ten years ago her organisation has been building bridges between China and the Western world by establishing innovative collaborations in the wide field of art and education. Under leadership of the bubbly Chinese with Western education, the organisation has initiated collaborations with such well-known personalities as the aforementioned piano virtuoso Lang Lang, the creator of the famous “Ash Paintings” Zhang Huan, the design star Shao Fan, the famous conductor Sir Daniel Barenboim, the co-founder of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which unites young musicians from Israel and Arabic countries, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Beijing Music Festival, the director of the Edinburgh International Festival Jonathan Mills and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Love for the arts

The motivation and courage to create a platform for the artistic dialogue between East and West roots in Lady Linda Wong Davies’ biography and specifically in the influence her father Dato Wong Kee Tat, a Chinese-Malaysian business man and philanthropist, had on her. “My father was a wonderful man, who taught us to honour the Chinese arts while introducing us to Western culture, especially to classical music, at a young age. He gave me the love of music – a very generous gift,” the economy graduate reveals passionately. “And he had strong principles: ‘Look back at your roots and be proud of where you come from.’ That is how as a world citizen in a global society I found the way back to my roots and delved into Chinese history and culture.” And a world citizen she is indeed: born in Singapore, raised in Malaysia, educated in England, graduated from an American university and living in Paris, London and Shanghai, this charismatic woman embodies the globally connected mediator like no other.

“i passionately support young artists”

The mother of three adult children is constantly travelling the world and wherever she stops, the passionate music enthusiast and lover of the performing arts meets with partners to discuss new collaborative projects for her foundation. One of these projects was her brilliant 2014 coup: “The Goddess”, the legendary Chinese silent movie that was banned for its decadence during the cultural revolution, found its way back home to Shanghai 80 years after its premier. Simultaneously, the KT Wong Foundation realised the staging of the Georg Friedrich Handel opera “Semele” in Brussels, Beijing and Toronto under the direction of famous Chinese artist Zhang Huan. Other projects included the first-ever Chinese production of Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal” at the Beijing Music Festival 2013 and with “Noye’s Fludde” the first performance of a Benjamin Britten opera in China. Lady Linda’s future-oriented mindset makes her care especially for young talents: “I passionately support young artists, who, without our help, have no chance of establishing themselves.” Both the Chinese and the Western world can continue to expect big things from the little lady with the great ardour.

ktwong.org

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