Philadelphians’ China tour, crossing cultural divide through side-by-side performances

Posted on: May 30, 2014

In Thursday’s (5/29) Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns reports from Shenzhen, China, where the Philadelphia Orchestra’s tour is underway. “The earnest young Chinese woman asked the question with a directness uncharacteristic of her world: How do you learn to appreciate Western classical music? She had come to the right place on Wednesday: an open, practical dialogue about symphony orchestra conducting featuring Philadelphia Orchestra associate conductor Cristian Macelaru. His reply: ‘You don’t need to understand anything more than that it’s beautiful. Allow yourself to be moved by the same things that move you in Chinese music.’… Geographic barriers have been erased by Western-style classical orchestras being formed and cultivated all over China. But the Philadelphia Orchestra’s emphasis during its 2014 Asia and China residency is placing Philadelphians side by side with local musicians.… During a joint concert with the Philadelphians and the Shanghai City Symphony on Monday, Macelaru was astonished to hear how the Shanghai orchestra, made up mostly of students and senior amateurs, played like two completely different ensembles depending on the piece…. ‘The Verdi was very mechanical,’ Macelaru said. ‘Then they started playing the Butterfly Lovers [by He Zhanhao and Gan Chen], and … they were wearing their hearts on their sleeves.’ ” The coming issue of Symphony magazine will report on China’s classical-music scene.

Posted May 30, 2014