Thursday was a free day for most of the musicians, giving them a chance to get over any jet lag before the almost-daily schedule of rehearsals/concerts/residency activities begins in earnest.
A reception was held at Jianfu Palace in the Forbidden City hosted by Ronnie Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Group, in honor of Ambassador Nicholas Platt. Platt accompanied US President Richard Nixon on his historic trip to Beijing in 1972 and was instrumental in helping to facilitate The Philadelphia Orchestra’s landmark tour to China in 1973. He was an essential part of building bridges between China and the US and is a living record of the history between the two countries. For many years he has been senior advisor for the Orchestra’s work in China.
At the event Platt was given an award by the Orchestra in recognition of his “defining role in connecting the people of the United States and China through the Global Exchange Programs of The Philadelphia Orchestra.” As Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky said while making the presentation, “For more than 46 years you have served as one of the most influential figures in the history of The Philadelphia Orchestra. I do not say this lightly, as it ranks you with some very influential figures, such as Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
“Simply put, we would not be gathered here this evening if not for your foresight, your diplomacy, and your unparalleled commitment to building bridges between China and the United States.
“It is my privilege to present you with a special award that recognizes your life’s work, your remarkable accomplishments, and the many deep and lasting relationships you have built in China and around the world.”
Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner on the street in Beijing. Photo by Chris Lee
Photo by Chris Lee
At the reception at Jianfu Palace, Matías Tarnopolsky presents the award to Ambassador Platt, while composer Tan Dun looks on. Tan Dun composed a special Fanfare Overture in honor of Ambassador Platt, to be premiered at the Orchestra’s concert in Beijing on May 17. Photo by Chris Lee
Gathered at the reception are (left to right) Matías Tarnopolsky, composer Tan Dun, Orchestra Board Chairman Richard B. Worley, Director of the Palace Museum Wang Xudong, Ambassador Platt, US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, Christine Branstad, Barbara Chan, and Ronnie Chan. Photo by Chris Lee
Violinist Philip Kates decided to give the gardeners a helping hand by watering the plants. Photo by Chris Lee
Violinist Mei Ching Huang explores Jianfu Palace. Photo by Chris Lee
Associate Principal Second Violin Paul Roby at Jianfu Palace. Photo by Chris Lee
Ronnie Chan addresses the gathering. Photo by Chris Lee
After his address, Ronnie Chan gave a tour of Jianfu Palace. Jianfu Palace was the abode of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Construction on the complex began in 1742. The Palace remains closed to the public and only serves to receive foreign VIPs. Photo by Chris Lee
Orchestra Executive Director Ryan Fleur (left) with Frank Whitaker, minister counselor for public affairs, US Embassy, Beijing. Photo by Chris Lee
Ambassador Branstad and his wife, Christine, with Ronnie Chan on the tour. Photo by Chris Lee
The rooftops of Jianfu Palace and the Forbidden City. Photo by Chris Lee
Photo by Chris Lee
A string quartet of Orchestra musicians performed works by Mozart and Beethoven at the event: (l to r) Associate Principal Second Violin Paul Roby, violinist Mei Ching Huang, Principal Cello Hai-Ye Ni, and violinist Philip Kates. Photo by Chris Lee
After the performance, there was a question-and-answer session with Ambassador Platt, moderated by Matías Tarnopolsky and Ronnie Chan. Photo by Chris Lee