A Benefit Concert – Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra’s 40th anniversary in China

6 Jun

At the beginning of June I was invited to a concert given by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Shanghai.

It was a benefit concert for a children’s charity in Ya’an and it commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra’s first visit to China in 1973.  They had been one of the first ever western orchestras to play in China and were part of Richard Nixon’s opening up policy.

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There was a cocktail reception prior to the concert where the current head of the Orchestra spoke about the partnership over the last forty years and how music can bridge barriers without words.  Then one of the violinists who had actually played in the historic concert spoke.  He made a joke that the first concert people didn’t applaud very loudly, but now people feel comfortable making more noise.

In 1973 the cultural revolution was still going on.  I imagine that even the thought of applauding for a western music group would have been terrifying for many of the people in attendance.  What changes have occurred over these last 40 years!

After the reception we went into the concert hall.  I hadn’t been to this theater previously, but it was modern and comfortable with great sight lines and decent acoustics.  They held it in the Oriental Art Center in Pudong which is easily accessible off line 2 at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum stop.  Previously I had thought that this theater was too far away, but after going I realize it’s actually very convenient.

Waiting before the concert

Waiting before the concert

The concert itself was a nice distraction from the whirl that my life has been lately.  A local children’s music group played two traditional pieces and then the orchestra came out and did three works, my favorite being the Brahms after the interval.  I haven’t heard classical music live for quite a while and thoroughly enjoyed my evening.

Enjoying the evening with others at the cocktail hour

Enjoying the evening with others at the cocktail hour

Have you ever felt part of a historic event? I wasn’t around in 1973 but for those readers who were, what changes have you seen since then – and what more do you hope to see change?

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2 Responses to “A Benefit Concert – Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra’s 40th anniversary in China”

  1. abc in shanghai June 6, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Been there for La Bohemne a few months back – nice acoustics inside.

    • gkm2011 June 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Yes, I agree. Now that I know how easy it is to get there, I am sure I’ll be back.

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