Former mines alive with sound of piano music
A pianist plays with a piano in a paddy field in Dongheng village during the opening ceremony of the 12th Luoshe Piano Culture Festival on Oct 30, 2019. [Photo/zj.zjol.com.cn]
Dongheng village, located in the southeast of Luoshe town, in Huzhou's Deqing county, Zhejiang province, was once a booming mining district, but is now an idyllic place filled with the sound of pianos.
The village occupies an area of 10.4 square kilometers and has a population of 3,013. Villagers started to exploit the mines nearby in 1997 and, at its peak, it ran 13 mine enterprises. The mining businesses enriched the village while compromising the environment: relentless exploitation resulted in endless noise, dirt, and pits in the village.
In 2008, Dongheng village decided to close its mines and looked to build a new eco-friendly industry from scratch. By the end of 2009, all mine enterprises in the village had ceased operation, leaving some 3,000-mu (200 hectares) of deserted mines and an instantly strained finance for the village. However, villagers were inspired by a State-owned piano factory nearby and started to open up their own piano businesses.
Among these entrepreneurs was Shi Hengkai, a Dongheng-bred college graduate who had been a city dweller for four years before returning to the village in 2014. He first set up a small company manufacturing piano parts on a 600-square-meter site and soon made a fortune. Then his company, after going through more than 500 experiments between 2016 and 2017, finally mastered the core technologies for making a complete piano.
In 2016, Dongheng village was sponsored by the Huzhou municipal government to establish a 680-mu piano culture park, which was constructed on the leveled-up pits. Most piano manufacturers in the village, including Shi's company, soon moved to the park.
At present, Luoshe town has become the largest piano manufacturing center in the Yangtze River Delta region, while Dongheng village is aiming to become China's most notable village for piano culture. The village's piano culture park has housed more than 30 piano enterprises and is set to form a complete industrial chain, including manufacturing, sales, R&D, and training.
Shi Hengkai's company now has a 9,000-sq-m site and 60 staff members, selling some 600 pianos of its own brand annually.
"I am one of the many beneficiaries of the village's economic transition. I am confident about an even better future for the village," Shi said emotionally.