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With Celebratory Fanfare, The Philadelphia Orchestra Details its 2013 Residency in the People’s Republic of China

May 23, 2013

(Philadelphia, PA, May 23, 2013)—The Philadelphia Orchestra—one of the world’s most renowned ensembles and cultural ambassadors—today detailed its 2013 Residency in the People’s Republic of China while also announcing exciting specifics related to its concert in Tianjin, which is one of seven being performed as part of the Orchestra’s Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China. Traveling to Hangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing, and Macao during its two-week visit, the Tour—celebrating the Orchestra’s historical legacy as the first U.S. orchestra to visit the nation in 1973—will run concurrently with its Residency and will be conducted by Donald Runnicles, a frequent and valued partner of the ensemble. The Philadelphia Orchestra’s music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, will conduct the ensemble during its China Residency in 2014. 

Joined by musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra as well as members of Philadelphia’s civic and business community, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra Allison Vulgamore highlighted a myriad of Residency events, which focus on high-level People-to-People Exchanges. Activities include rehearsals and performances with professional and student musicians, special lectures, sharing of “best practices” in arts management, Fortieth Anniversary ceremonial and diplomatic functions, and a wide variety of community visits. Specific highlights include:

Sectional Coachings and Joint Concert, Beijing: Members of The Philadelphia Orchestra will coach sections of the China National Symphony Orchestra (CSNO). These sessions and the orchestras’ joint concert at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on June 6 mark the renewal of a relationship that began in 1973 when Maestro Eugene Ormandy conducted the CSNO (then the Central Philharmonic Society of China) in a rehearsal attended by musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Sound of Friendship Citizen Concert, Shanghai: Hosted by the Shanghai Hongkou District People’s Government, the Shanghai International Culture Association, and the Shanghai Synergy Culture & Entertainment Group, musicians from The Philadelphia Orchestra will join members of the Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra in a joint concert, including side-by-side performances.

Chamber Recital, Macao: Musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform a chamber concert presented in cooperation with the Instituto Cultural do Governo da R.A.E. de Macau. 

Orchestra Administration Lecture, Macao: Philadelphia Orchestra Associate Conductor Cristian Măcelaru, Executive Vice President for Orchestra Advancement Ryan Fleur, and Drexel University Assistant Professor of Arts Administration Julie Hawkins will discuss a range of topics related to orchestra administration and the life of a musician.

“Embrace the World” In-School Program, Shanghai: In partnership with the Shanghai Charity Foundation, musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform for autistic children and engage with them as they play their own musical instruments through this interactive program.

Hospital Visits, Shanghai & Tianjin:  Musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra will visit Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and Tianjin Children’s Hospital to perform for young patients battling a wide variety of illnesses.  

Said Ms. Vulgamore, “What makes this Residency special is that it is based on an authentic love for China and it is rooted in extraordinary authenticity. In 2012, we experienced beautiful moments of deep connection when visiting Coca-Cola’s Project Hope School and the Dongcheng Special Education School in Bejing. In 2013 we seek to build upon last year’s learnings and aim to further grow our role as a cultural ambassador for Philadelphia and the Commonwealth.” 

Ms. Vulgamore also announced that the concert planned for Tianjin–Philadelphia’s “Sister City”–on June 5 will be simulcast on a giant LED screen outside the Tianjin Grand Theatre. In addition to ticketholders, it is anticipated that 8,000-10,000 citizens will gather around the Theatre to watch the performance. To specially mark this exciting event, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) created a special “With Love” message, which has been translated into Chinese, to be presented in Tianjin. It reads:  


Dear Philadelphia Orchestra,

Congratulations on Forty Years of Making Beautiful Music in China. 

With Love, Philadelphia XOXO 

P.S. Hope This Year’s Residency & Tour are as Harmonious as Ever.


Corporate support has been important to the planning and development of the Residency and Tour. Sands China Ltd., which operates the Venetian in Macao, is serving as Platinum Sponsor of the Residency and commemorative Tour while Cigna Corporation is the Fortieth Anniversary Sponsor. Coca-Cola China will be a Supporting Sponsor. Also providing financial and civic support is Hershey’s: The Hershey Company, Drexel University, and White and Williams, LLP.

“As we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic first visit to China, we view the establishment of our China Residency as a promised fulfilled,” said Ms. Vulgamore. “This ensemble’s personal engagement of the Chinese people beyond the performance halls brings to fruition President Nixon’s vision in sending our Orchestra to China in 1973. It wasn’t simply about performances. It was about creating working relationships between our peoples—and today this remains true. Our commitment to China is defined by continuity and consistency and our 2013 Residency and Tour is informed by the incomparable breadth and depth of our relationship with the people of China over the past four decades.  We are thrilled to return and to once again be united by the common language of music.”

For more information regarding The Philadelphia Orchestra, the current 2012-13 season, and its ongoing cultural relationship with China through its Residency program, visit www.philorch.org.


The Philadelphia Orchestra and China

In 1973 The Philadelphia Orchestra, under Eugene Ormandy’s direction, became the first American orchestra to perform in the People’s Republic of China, at the special request of President Richard Nixon. The Orchestra returned to mainland China 20 years later, in 1993, again in 1996, and also in 2001, led by Wolfgang Sawallisch on each occasion. In 2008 Chistoph Eschenbach led the Philadelphians in a Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Concert commemorating its historic trip to China. Two years later, in 2010, Charles Dutoit and The Philadelphia Orchestra helped to open the World Expo in Shanghai. In 2012 The Philadelphia Orchestra launched its highly successful pilot Residency, which united Philadelphia Orchestra members with talented Chinese musicians through master classes, lectures, and other musical workshops and laid the groundwork for deeper cultural engagement, beyond the stage, in China’s major cities and provinces.

Seven musicians who were on the 1973 trip remain members of the Orchestra today: violinists Herbert Light, Davyd Booth, and Booker Rowe; violist Renard Edwards; double bassist Michael Shahan (associate principal bass); harpist Margarita Csonka Montanaro (co-principal harp); and percussionist Anthony Orlando (associate principal percussion). The Philadelphia Orchestra has a long and distinguished touring history throughout the world and is one of the most-traveled American symphonic ensembles. 


The Philadelphia Orchestra

Renowned for its distinctive sound, beloved for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for an unrivaled legacy of “firsts” in music-making, The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin became the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra beginning in the 2012-13 season and brings a vision that extends beyond symphonic music into the vivid world of opera and choral music. He follows an extraordinary history of artistic leaders in the Orchestra’s 112 seasons, including music directors Fritz Scheel, Carl Pohlig, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Christoph Eschenbach, and Charles Dutoit, who served as chief conductor from 2008 to 2012.

The Philadelphia Orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 The Philadelphia Orchestra has reinvigorated or launched new partnerships with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (Fringe Festival), Philadanco, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Marian Anderson Award, the Ridge Theater Company, and stage director James Alexander, among others.

Philadelphia is home and the Orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center but also those who enjoy the Orchestra’s other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn’s Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music, a National Historic Landmark.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the U.S. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The Orchestra annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail festival.

The ensemble recently joined with SpectiCast to deliver simulcasts of Orchestra concerts into theaters, schools, and performing arts centers. The Orchestra also recently announced a partnership with WRTI (90.1 FM) to broadcast pre-recorded versions of its subscription concerts from February through May 2013. The ensemble maintains an important Philadelphia tradition of presenting educational programs for students of all ages. Today the Orchestra executes a myriad of education and community partnership programs serving nearly 50,000 annually, including its Neighborhood Concert Series, Sound All Around and Family Concerts, and eZseatU. In February 2013 the Orchestra announced a recording project with Deutsche Grammophon, in which Yannick and the ensemble will record Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org.


Donald Runnicles

One of today’s leading Wagnerian specialists, Donald Runnicles is general music director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, and principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2005 and has led the ensemble on numerous occasions. He also maintains regular relationships with the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony. A Scot by birth, Mr. Runnicles has literally returned home as chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, leading subscription concerts in various cities in Scotland and northern England, and anchoring the Symphony’s substantial presence at the U.K.’s two largest festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival and the London Proms. 

From 1992 to 2008 Mr. Runnicles was music director of the San Francisco Opera, having unexpectedly won the job after stepping in for a colleague and conducting two Wagner Ring cycles in 1990. During his many years with the company, he led more than 60 productions, including the world premieres of John Adams’s Dr. Atomic and Conrad Susa’s Dangerous Liaisons, and the U.S. premieres of Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise and Aribert Reimann’s Lear. At the close of his tenure he was given the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, previously given to such luminaries as Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, and Plácido Domingo. Other awards include the Order of the British Empire and honorary degrees from Edinburgh University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and an honorary doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Mr. Runnicles’s recordings with the Atlanta Symphony include a critically acclaimed concert disc of works by Strauss and Wagner with soprano Christine Brewer, Mozart’s Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina burana. Also in his discography are a live recording of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde with Ms. Brewer and John Treleaven; a Grammy-nominated recital of German romantic opera arias with tenor Ben Heppner; and Wagner’s Ring excerpts with the Dresden Staatskapelle.