Philadelphia Orchestra going to China in 2012

Next year, the Philadelphia Orchestra will seek new musical talent–and new compositions–in China.

In an agreement with the Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the orchestra will be in residency for a week in May. The orchestra intends to tour the outer provinces where many Chinese don’t have the opportunity to see a world-class orchestra.

“This is a combination of performances in a concert hall, going out to the provinces, of stewarding new talent in China–our musicians with students,” said orchestra president Allison Vulgamore. “And also being able to bring chamber music into our repertoire.”

At the end of the residency, the orchestra will perform a newly written work to be selected through a contest among Chinese composers.

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While many stars of the classical world come from China, many of them are a product of both Chinese conservatories and Western training.

“The combination of the two is what really works,” said Nicholas Platt, a former U.S. ambassador to China who helped broker this agreement. “Lang Lang is a good example. This kind of cross-pollination is what makes a difference.”

Platt helped arranged the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic 1973 tour of China; it was the first Western orchestra to perform in Communist China. That tour, during the administration of President Richard Nixon, is credited with strengthening diplomatic ties between the U.S. and China.

In a written statement regarding next year’s residency, the Department of State is “pleased to note” the Philadelphia Orchestra’s effort to build cultural ties with China.

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