By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief, Publishing Perspectives
We’ve all been waiting for the fireworks to start, but so far no one has lit a fuse. As a journalist looking for the big story, the question casting a long shadow over the Fair is what effect the co-mingling of official and “unofficial” Chinese delegations would have on the Fair.
Would dissidents shout down or otherwise disrupt official events? No, the most dramatic thing that’s happened so far was a man waving around a printout with Chinese characters on it during the opening ceremony speech by China’s vice president Xi Jinping (speculation is that it was a list of Chinese dissidents missing from the Fair).
Would someone shout out in the middle of a quiet passage in the middle of pianist Lang Lang’s performance last night? No, but then again Lang Lang’s playing is a kind of human fireworks display.
So far things have been peaceful at the Fair.
The Fair is, above all, about transacting business and the tens of thousands of (cash strapped) trade visitors who don’t want to be distracted from their work by protests, disruptions or other mayhem—especially since many of them are keeping their visits even shorter this year and are heading home by Saturday.
While it may seem like the show floor has been a little quieter than in past years, the truth is, it’s not really. Visitors are down just 0.8%. Nevertheless, the Fair has still made an effort to pump up the volume, so to speak. The opening ceremony featured a sizeable jazz band (Fair Director Juergen Boos was brought to stage to the dubious accompaniment of the theme song from the TV show Magnum P.I.) and there’s the unexpected sight of a xylophone player stationed outside Hall 8, playing as people wait in line to have their bag checked at security.
I won’t lie: I do prefer fireworks to the dulcet tones of a xylophone any day, but if the closest I get to a fireworks show this year is Lang Lang’s emotive interpretation of the Yellow River Piano Concerto in the Alte Oper last night, I’ll go home happy.