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A cool summer in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin is warming up with the opening of its annual music festival. China's longest running music festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
A one-hundred strong children's choir raised the curtain on the event. Harbin is well-known as a major concert venue in China and was recognized last month as a "City of Music" by the United Nations.
Held annually since 1961, the Harbin Summer Music Concerts Festival has now become a major cultural event funded and organized by the local government. The musical fiesta has also become an integral part of summer life for the city's residents.
The 9th National Vocal Music Competition, the top singing competition in China organized by the Ministry of Culture, is part of the 10-day event and aims to identify new and talented singers in Western, folk and pop genres. A total of 665 hopefuls have entered the competition, with 220 making it through to the finals.
Besides the competition, 17 domestic and 20 overseas acts are also taking part in the festival, including the musical, Princess Sissi from Austria, and a Bollywood show.
The 2010 Harbin Summer Accordion Art Week will also be staged with hundreds of players from across the world attending.