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Huge Center Brings Performance Art to Southern Taiwan

2018-11-12

Taiwan has opened a center that it calls the world’s biggest performing arts center in the island’s south.

The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts includes several large spaces for performances. A concert hall that seats almost two thousand people, an opera house with 2,236 seats, a play house and another stage for performances are all in the same building.

The center covers 3.3 hectares of land.

The first season includes dance, musical and comic performances by local and international artists. The first opera to be shown, “Paradise Interrupted,” is a joint international production with New York’s Lincoln Center Festival, the Spoleto Festival USA and the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform.

The center opened in October. It took eight years to build and cost about $350 million dollars.

Before becoming an arts center, the land in Kaohsiung, a city of 2.8 million people, had been used for military buildings. Local people still call the center by the name of the old military camp Weiwuying.

Some of the performers see the new center as a chance to gain recognition.

Chloe Young is a member of the Sydney Dance Company. She said, “Not many people can say that they have performed” at Weiwuying. She said it was an honor to be there.

The center was designed by the Dutch architecture company Mecanoo. The group designed the unusual building with elements that are meant to represent tropical objects and also objects found on ships.

In this undated handout photo provided Nov. 5, 2018, by the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben is seen in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.
In this undated handout photo provided Nov. 5, 2018, by the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben is seen in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

Francine Houben is the creative director of Mecanoo. She said, “I think what is really unique is this roof, what was inspired by the banyan trees with the crown.”

She added that she “had to create a really new public space specifically for Taiwan, for Kaohsiung, that catches the wind of the ocean…and of the tropical space.”

The concert hall has the biggest pipe organ in Asia with over nine thousand pipes. It was built by a German company to look like bamboo.

Organ player Liu Hsin-hung praised the huge instrument. “I have played many organs both in Taiwan and abroad, but this one is the biggest and best,” Liu said.

He Wen-jhang is a 62-year-old retired physics and chemistry teacher who lives near the center. He said he is pleased that an arts center was built rather than homes, adding that it would change the city.

“Coming here to exchange views greatly influences citizens’ temperament,” said He, “This has a big impact on Kaohsiung’s cultural aspect.”

I’m Mario Ritter.

Mario Ritter adapted this AP story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

concert hall –n. a large room were musical performances are held

unique –adj. unlike anything else

inspired –adj. very good or clever

pipe organ –n. a musical instrument with a keyboard and pipes that make sound

impact –n. a powerful influence or effect

aspect –n. a part of something

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