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Chinese Embassy Press Conference - 35th Anniversary Events

August 1, 2014

The Philadelphia Orchestra Deepens Cultural Exchanges with China

 Evolution of Relationship Includes Sharing of

Music-Making, Musicians, and Ensembles

Initiatives Announced on 35th Anniversary of Official Diplomatic Relations

Between United States and People’s Republic of China

November 7 Concert by National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra

 at Kimmel Center in Philadelphia to be Broadcast in China 

(Washington, D.C., August 1, 2014)—At a press conference Tuesday at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, The Philadelphia Orchestra announced initiatives that demonstrate the deepening relationship between the ensemble and China, including the Orchestra’s presentation of the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra (NCPA) in Philadelphia, along with Philadelphia-trained Chinese pianist and audience favorite Yuja Wang. 

In addition, Orchestra and Chinese officials announced that the November 7 NCPA Orchestra concert at The Philadelphia Orchestra’s home in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall will be simulcast throughout China by the Xinhui Media Group in Shanghai.

At the press conference Orchestra officials noted the concert in Philadelphia will mark the 35th anniversary of official relations between the United States and China, relations which were established following the Orchestra’s historic 1973 tour of China more than 40 years ago. In attendance at the event were the Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission Lu Kang, and other Chinese dignitaries, and Greta Morris, acting deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy, and other U.S. State Department officials.

“Since that first visit more than 40 years ago, undertaken at the request of President Nixon, the Orchestra’s relationship with the people of China has grown, from a single cultural step forward, to a multi-faceted one that is substantial, sustainable, and as groundbreaking as our tour was in 1973,” said Allison Vulgamore, the Orchestra’s president and CEO.

“The Philadelphia Orchestra holds a commitment to cultural reciprocity and to sustainable cultural exchange,” said Vulgamore. “Music has fostered our common understanding and shared commitment over decades, and even more so in the years the Orchestra has returned to China.”

“Cultural exchange has the unique power to bring people together. I would like to applaud The Philadelphia Orchestra for its continued efforts in bridging the two peoples through music exchange,” Lu said.

“The Orchestra and its members have distinguished themselves as cultural ambassadors in an extraordinarily important global relationship, and are doing a great service for both the United States and China,” Morris added.

Vulgamore said the consistency and continuity of the Orchestra’s visits to China differentiate it from other American orchestras. “For three consecutive years we’ve traveled to China, for multi-week visits, working with our partners and supporting their goals, sharing best practices and expertise, and most important, listening. We have found a deep well of generosity, and we are never sitting alone.”  

“The visit in1973 was never simply a tour. It was the beginning of a critical diplomatic relationship that has driven trade, investment, education, culture, sports, and much more between our nations,” Vulgamore said.

In opening remarks, Craig Hamilton, the Orchestra’s vice president for global initiatives and government relations, said that the Orchestra has planned for a true cultural exchange, “which by its very definition implies that our partnership is a two-way street that seeks to enable both China and the United States to share its music-making, musicians, and ensembles with one another.

“This coming year is a pinnacle year for The Philadelphia Orchestra in ensuring that our collaboration is not just achieved in China, but also here in the United States, giving U.S. citizens the opportunity to experience Chinese culture,” Hamilton said. “And through our new and developing media partnerships we are giving people around the world that same opportunity to experience special and unique offerings of Chinese culture.”

The NCPA Orchestra’s North American tour includes concerts in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal.

The National Center for the Performing Arts is The Philadelphia Orchestra’s main strategic partner in China, and in recognition of that relationship there will be two official days of activities in Philadelphia on November 6 and 7. Among the activities will be a declaration by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter of a “NCPAO Day in Philadelphia.”

Celebrating almost 10 years as the unmistakable “crown jewel” of China’s performing arts, the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing has become the country’s indisputable leading institution for performing arts and the city’s great landmark of its dynamic cultural life, and now ranks among the finest spaces for the world’s classical music events.

The NCPA Orchestra’s concerts follow The Philadelphia Orchestra’s highly successful 2014 Tour of Asia and China Residency, May 21 through June 6, which marked Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s inaugural tour with Orchestra. The tour covered major cities in mainland China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, and Shenzhen, where Mr. Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestra presented works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler, along with a special performance of Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women by world-renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun, dedicated to audiences in China. In addition to the mainland cities, the Orchestra also made a return trip to Macao for the second consecutive year.

Also speaking at the July 29 press conference was Ambassador Nicholas Platt, who was the chief of the political section, U.S. Liaison Office, in Peking (Beijing), and who helped facilitate the Orchestra’s 1973 historic tour of China. 

The press conference concluded with a performance by Orchestra musicians violinist Hirono Oka; Assistant Principal Second Violin Dara Morales; Principal Viola Choong-Jin Chang; and guest cellist Jesús Morales Matos.

The Philadelphia Orchestra and China

The Philadelphia Orchestra recently completed its 2014 China Residency and Tour of Asia (May 20—June 6), marking Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s first tour with The Philadelphia Orchestra. With the 2014 China Residency, The Philadelphia Orchestra built upon the tremendous success of its previous two years of residency work in China and continued to engage Chinese music lovers both in concert halls and through community engagement. In 2012 the ensemble reconnected with its historical roots in China and more deeply embraced its role as a cultural ambassador by launching a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing, a pilot residency that united the Orchestra with talented young Chinese musicians and composers to further develop their orchestral skills. The residency also served to bring orchestral music, through performances and master classes, not only to China’s major cities but also further into the provinces, and to connect through the hearts of local musicians to their supporting communities, through the sharing of musical talents between its own musicians and Chinese musicians, engaging in music education, and spreading the joy of classical music with citizens in residential neighborhoods and at landmark historic sites. The success of this pilot program was confirmed when the Orchestra and the NCPA signed a long-term agreement to extend this partnership into future residency programs, and in May-June 2013 the Orchestra triumphantly returned for its Residency and Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China—with over 50 activities in 15 days.

The innovative program continues to represent a bridge for cultural, educational, and diplomatic exchange between China and the United States, as the two nations celebrate 35 years of diplomatic relations. Since 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon asked the Orchestra to be the first U.S. orchestra to perform in China, the ensemble has enjoyed a unique and special relationship with China and its people. The Orchestra has returned in 1993, 1996, 2001, 2008, and 2010, when it helped to open the World Expo in Shanghai, prior to its residencies in 2012 and 2013. In 2014The Philadelphia Orchestra’s visit to Changsha marked the first U.S. orchestra to perform in that city and its performance in the Shenzhen Concert Hall was the first by an American orchestra. Through a partnership with Xinhui Media Group the Orchestra’s 2014 concert at the Shanghai Grand Theatre was webcast over the internet and viewed by nearly 250,000 people. 

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org