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China Daily Website

Forty years of music with China

Updated: 2013-06-29 03:34
By CAROLINE BERG in New York ( China Daily)

Former US ambassador Nicholas Platt, who facilitated the orchestra's 1973 tour, accompanied the group this month to give his presentation, "China: Then and Now," with footage of Nixon's historic trip, as well as read from his memoir China Boys and lead a discussion on current conditions in China.

Hamilton said the orchestra will meet in the next few weeks to discuss what worked from the trip, what didn't work and what could be better. The tour marked the first time a professional US orchestra performed in Hangzhou. Hamilton hopes the orchestra will play in another new city in the 2014 residency program.

"We particularly sustain the idea of co-creating these residencies in China, so that each is unique to the community in which we're performing," Hamilton said. "It's important for us not to come in with a pre-determined menu of opportunities."

Hamilton said the pop-up performances, which mostly occurred in popular and historic sites such as the Great Wall and Beijing's Temple of Heaven, are a hallmark of the residency program.

One particularly memorable, and truly surprising, pop-up performance happened on the Beijing airport tarmac while members of the orchestra waited three hours for their flight to Macao to take off.

More than 2.1 million people have watched the pop-up's footage on YouTube of some of the string musicians playing Antonin Dvorak's String Quartet No. 12 in F in the middle of the plane's cramped coach section.

"I look forward to doing more with the residency next year," Orlando said. "I was thinking about writing a piece that uses some of the Chinese tom-tom drums I've bought over the years and mixing them in with our Latin percussion or snare drums or something more Western."

Orlando said he might also try to arrange a partnership with a music group like the Shanghai Percussion Ensemble.

Corporate support was integral to the planning and development of the residency and tour. Support from the US came from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Drexel University; The Hershey Co; Cigna; Coca-Cola; and the law offices of White and Williams. Support was also provided by the Venetian Macao and the Shanghai Charity Foundation Haipai Qingkou Charity Fund.

"This is a relationship whose legacy we honor, but it's a relationship that's really very much forward focused," Hamilton said. "To me, the fact that we're growing the relationship is what's going to help both countries do business at every level by way of these people-to-people exchanges."


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