Cultural diplomacy and the China Philharmonic—in Iran

Posted on: August 19, 2015

“Cultural diplomacy is a significant activity for symphony orchestras,” writes Anne Midgette in Sunday’s (8/16) Washington Post. “The Boston Symphony Orchestra toured Russia in 1956. The Philadelphia Orchestra went to China in 1973. The New York Philharmonic played Pyongyang in 2008; the Minnesota Orchestra went to Cuba this past May. And on Friday night, the music of Dvorák’s ‘New World’ symphony was heard in Tehran.… It was the China Philharmonic, [which] is wrapping up a six-stop Silk Road tour … playing Chinese and Western repertory and effectively showcasing its strengths to China’s not-so-distant geographical neighbors. It also showcases [China Philharmonic Music Director] Long Yu, a superpower of China’s burgeoning music world who also leads the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Beijing Music Festival, and the Shanghai Orchestra Academy, in a role he would dearly like to assume: that of cultural diplomat…. Tehran was also spreading its wings as a city that wants such culture. The performance, in fact, was shared between the China Philharmonic and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1933, defunct for several years, and revived this past April…. On Friday, led by Ali Rahbari … the ensemble played Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scheherazade’—a snapshot of the East through Western eyes.”

Posted August 19, 2015