The Philadelphia Orchestra will travel to China next month for a packed schedule of concerts in four cities, master classes, cultural exchange forums and community outreach.
The weeklong tour and residency pilot program runs from May 28 to June 6 in collaboration with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. It will include five full orchestra concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou. Smaller ensembles will perform at community centers, schools for blind and special needs children, as well as brief performances in historic spots including the Great Wall.
Also planned are open rehearsals, lectures, performances by combined Philadelphia-Beijing ensembles and the world premiere of Chinese composer Du Wei's "Interrupted Dream," the orchestra said Wednesday in releasing details of the trip announced last fall.
The visit represents a preview of what is anticipated as an initial five-year partnership being launched with a three-week tour of China in 2013 - the 40th anniversary of the orchestra's historic 1973 visit to China with legendary conductor Eugene Ormandy.
"The Philadelphia Orchestra is an old friend of the Chinese people and the premier ambassador of the United States," said Yang Jingmao, vice president of the Beijing arts center. "We are happy to host and partner with The Philadelphia Orchestra to inaugurate this new era of cultural exchange between China and the U.S."
The announcement is a welcome bright spot, and intends to illustrate a vote of confidence, for an ensemble that stunned music lovers one year ago by becoming the first major U.S. orchestra to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The world-renowned 111-year-old orchestra, which expects to emerge from bankruptcy in about 90 days, has struggled with dwindling attendance and donations, shrinking endowment income, the recession and an aging audience.
Orchestra president and CEO Allison Vulgamore said the organization was "humbled and honored to commit to the longer term possibilities we are co-designing with our good partners in China." --By JOANN LOVIGLIO