Orchestra committed to deeper music links

The Philadelphia Orchestra expects to deepen its cooperation with its Chinese partners, a senior executive of the orchestra has said.

“It’s such a powerful experience to be able to use music to connect people from the United States and China,” says Ryan Fleur, executive director of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

“The Philadelphia Orchestra is highly committed to deepening the relationship with China in the years ahead.”

Founded in 1900, the orchestra is renowned for a long and distinguished history of touring the world, and its ties with China mark a significant chapter in its century-old history.

In 1973, at the invitation of President Richard Nixon, it became the first US orchestra to visit the People’s Republic of China-a trip considered a key part of the US rapprochement with China in the 1970s.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s relationship with China predated the official ties between the two countries, says the senior executive, adding that his orchestra’s bond with China has withstood the ups and downs in bilateral relations on the national level.

“The constant is that we’re still making music and connecting with people,” says Fleur, who has been to China 13 times in the last seven years in an effort to strengthen the orchestra’s partnership with the country.

“We’re thrilled to be a vehicle to try to bring the world a little closer.”

Fleur says he believes in the power of music, noting that the beauty of melodies “transcends language, culture and boundaries”, which is an important instrument for facilitating US-China cultural exchanges and improving mutual understanding.

Through musical and cultural exchanges, “we could find a lot in common”, and that kind of people-to-people connection “is particularly important when we are from two great countries that represent such a large part of the world”, says Fleur, who is also an experienced pianist.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s interaction with its Chinese counterparts has been flourishing since its first historic visit to China 46 years ago.

The orchestra enjoys a longstanding partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing and the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. In addition, it has worked with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra since 2016 in advancing cultural exchanges between the US and China.

In May, it wrapped up its 12th tour to China, which was also aimed at marking the four-decade milestone in US-China diplomatic relations. Then, the orchestra held concerts in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, along with coaching sessions at Chinese colleges from May 16-28.

“We try to connect every year …The full orchestra goes back every year. And in between, we’ve developed many strategic partnerships in Beijing, Shanghai and throughout China with orchestras, performing art groups and media companies, to be able to use music to reach large numbers of people and to further grow relationships,” Fleur says.

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