The 2002 film, “Together”, directed by Chen Kaige, a well known director from China who is also known for Farewell My Concubine, tells a story of a widowed father, Liu Cheng, and his son, Liu Xiaochun, who is a violin prodigy. The pair live in a rural town in southern China, where the father is a chef. His son is a gifted violinist and is invited to compete in a competition in Beijing organized by the Children’s Palace. Although he is among the top competitors, he does not win first place. His father persists in supporting his son’s talents by pursuing private violin teachers to nurture his son’s talents. Each violin teacher sees Xiaochun’s talent but have different goals in mind for him. In the end, Xiaochun learns a lesson beyond simply playing the violin.
This film has great ties into what we learned about how classical music came to China and how China has also influenced classical music. The number of students that went to compete in Beijing reminded me of when Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai shared in their presentation about the thousands of students that compete classical music competitions for the few available slots. I could use clipes of this film with my students when doing a unit on music and the way that it has crossed boundaries allowing for a mutual influence on the music and cultures involved.