Philadelphians pack special gift for third China trip

     Philadelphia Orchestra's Juliette Kang plays at a press conference at City Hall to announce the orchestra's tour of China. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Philadelphia Orchestra's Juliette Kang plays at a press conference at City Hall to announce the orchestra's tour of China. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    The Philadelphia Orchestra will close out its season with a three-week trip to the China, Japan, and Taiwan.

    For three years running, the orchestra has visited China for a residency program, which takes the musicians off the stage so they directly engage with the Chinese public.

     

    This is the first time the orchestra’s music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin will tour Asia with the ensemble since he signed on two years ago.

    “Everywhere I go in the world – when I conduct in Europe, when I conduct in Asia – people are talking about the Philadelphians. Everybody is eager to hear it again and again,” said Nezet-Seguin. “To keep that place internationally and take it to a next level is one of our most important missions.”

    In addition to the ten concerts in seven cities throughout China, Japan, and Taiwan, members of the orchestra will offer master classes, perform at schools and hospitals, as well as alongside Chinese orchestras.

    The orchestra will be carrying a special gift in its duffle bag: a new work by the Chinese composer Tan Dun about a secret language called Nu Shu. Generations of women in a rural county in the Hunan province have created and maintained their own language in order to communicate with each other, unbeknownst to men.

    The orchestra premiered the work – for solo harp and orchestra — in Philadelphia last fall. During the tour the orchestra will perform the piece in the providence where the language originated.

    “This piece, which was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, is our gift back to the people of China, a real moment of cultural exchange,” said orchestra president Allison Vulgamore.

    The Philadelphia Orchestra will tour Asia from May 21 through June 5th.

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