Song Dongye rocketed to fame when Zuo Li performed a cover of his “Miss Dong” on the TV singing competition Super Boy. • Courtesy Photo
Song Dongye rocketed to fame when Zuo Li performed a cover of his “Miss Dong” on the TV singing competition Super Boy. • Courtesy Photo

On October 11, China’s Modern Sky Festival comes to Seattle to present a wide variety of musical acts from around the world.

The Modern Sky Festival was first produced in Beijing in 2007, according to Michael LoJudice, director of international affairs and booking. “It was actually to celebrate Modern Sky’s 10th anniversary [and] was supposed to just be a big party,” LoJudice said. “That turned into a major part of the company’s business moving forward!”

Music festivals such as Modern Sky are intended to fill a cultural gap. “They serve to promote cultural exchange, music awareness, and are just really fun events for young people, often times in cities where there are not a ton of similar fun events happening,” LoJudice. said.

After the first festival in 2007, the Modern Sky Festival has grown and expanded each year under the direction of Modern Sky Entertainment, and Seattle was a top choice for an inaugural U.S. venture. “We visited several cities, and Seattle just offered so much in terms of great local groups eager to support us, great venue and venue management,” LoJudice said. “And Seattle is just such a great city with a rich music history.”

He said that Modern Sky is happy with its choice of the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre as a venue. “Seattle Center was on our radar for awhile,” he said. “After we met with management and visited the site, we were sold.”

Modern Sky expects to present almost a dozen musical acts during this year’s Seattle festival. “We chose a group of artists from China that we received positive feedback on from Seattle Chinese students and other groups,” LoJudice said. “The international artists we chose because we’re fans of all of them.”

The musicians in question are likewise excited to perform in Seattle’s festival. “It’s the birthplace of grunge and a lot of great bands,” said Gao Hu of the band Miserable Faith. “I think the opportunity to go there and perform will be great to experience.”

The members of the band Hedgehog agreed. “We have been to Seattle for once in 2009, we love good music scene and cool people there,” they said. “We also want to show them our songs and see what kind of chemical reflection gotten be happened.”

And folk ballad singer Song Dongye is hoping to soak up Seattle’s local flavor. “Seattle is a very romantic place to me and has a lot of delicious food,” Dongye said. “I hope to get a better feel for the relaxed way of life in Seattle.”

The musicians expect this festival to be a learning experience. “We have not yet been to Seattle, but consider it a long-lost friend,” Gao Hu said. “Everything is unknown but I think we will benefit a lot from this experience of performing.”

Song Dongye agreed: “I haven’t had any contact, just what I’ve heard,” he said. “Now I want to experience it for myself.”

Hedgehog has traveled to Seattle previously, but still sees opportunities to experience the Puget Sound region. “We have been on a tour drive from west coast to east coast totally across the whole America in 2009, with other two Chinese bands, and had just one day stopped in Seattle,” they said. “What we only know is Seattle is a very big city, and super important for music industry.”

Hedgehog hopes to build on their prior meaningful experiences. “Last time, we drove to the park very close to Kurt Cobain’s house before he died, and there is a wooden chair full of blessing words,” they said. “We were so excited to be the first one to write Chinese Characters for Kurt.”

All three hope that the Modern Sky Festival will not be their last performing opportunity in Seattle. And LoJudice expects that this year’s festivals will only be the start of a new expansion in the U.S. in Europe.

This year, in addition to Seattle, festivals will be held in New York City and Helsinki. “And we are looking to add more sites,” director LoJudice said. “Stay tuned!”

The Modern Sky Festival occurs on October 11, at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre, Seattle. For more information, visit modernskyfestivalseattle.com.

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