While on tour in far-flung places, the Philadelphia Orchestra has streamed some of its concerts live over the internet for listeners at home, but it has never broadcast them over the radio.
Two evening concerts in Hong Kong, on May 19 and 20, will be heard in real time on Philadelphia’s classical and jazz station, WRTI — but pour yourself some coffee: They will start at 8 a.m., Philly time.
On Monday, the Orchestra flies to Asia to begin a three-week tour — the fifth and final tour under a residency agreement with the Chinese government. The trip is designed to promote diplomacy, both cultural and economic.
“We come in and play, and stay,” said Craig Hamilton, the Orchestra’s vice president of global initiatives. “We get to know the communities. It’s in our musicians’ DNA. They want to be out of the concert hall.”
In addition to concert dates, the Orchestra is planning community events, master classes, and pop-up performances throughout Asia. While in Shanghai it will give the inaugural performance at the International Tourism and Resorts Zone, a new development where Disney Shanghai will open this summer.
An international leg up
As China has been building more and more performance centers for newly forming symphonies, many in rural provinces, the Orchestra has been using its annual visits to promote relationships with burgeoning ensembles.
Hamilton says the many of these performance centers have started asking the Philadelphia Orchestra for advice on how to run a successful arts organization.
“New symphonies are forming within these second- and third-tier cities, but we need to know how to manage them,” said Hamilton. “How do we market to audience taste? How do we fundraise? The government pays the funding, and that might not always happen.”
The city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania will be piggybacking on the Orchestra’s Asian tour with an economic agenda, setting up meetings and receptions to promote themselves to Asian business leaders.
Japan is of particular interest. According to Neil Weaver, the executive deputy of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, there are 539 Japanese companies with operations in Pennsylvania, employing about 28,000 people.
“We haven’t been on the ground in Japan since 2008,” said Weaver. “We think it’s about time.”