The Chinese choral work The Yellow River Cantata, by Xian Xinghai, is a product of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). It sets a text by poet Guang Weiren, who encountered the river while traveling during wartime with his anti-Japanese drama troupe, from central China to the Chinese Communist base camp in Yan’an. The cantata’s early performances were reported to have mobilized hundreds of thousands to join the fight and were highly regarded by Ma Zedong and Zhou Enlai, who were present at some of these performances. Even though the Cantata’s affective textualmusical treatments were conceived to rally national resistance, they also instigated nationalism through musical means: namely the musical portrayal of the Yellow River, the use of folk music and allusion to local genres, and the effective use of instrumentation, particularly percussion instruments.
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