City's growing cultural scene attracts more world-class orchestras

2021-02-19 12:05:06

The Berliner Philharmoniker at its home concert hall. The prestigious orchestra will start a new residency project in Shanghai from 2022 on. [PHOTO BY STEPHAN ROBOLD/FOR CHINA DAILY] The Berliner Philharmoniker has announced a new residency project that will be held every other year in Shanghai beginning in June 2022. The prominent orchestra will put up four concerts under the baton of chief conductor Kirill Petrenko during the first residency as part of a Festival of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The performances in June next year will be part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany. Also in the pipeline are chamber music events, master classes, public educational initiatives as well as outreach and community projects. Founded in 1882, the Berliner Philharmoniker has visited China on five occasions, according to Wu Promotion, a long-term partner of the orchestra and a leading promoter of international art groups in China. "Working with leading performing groups of the world to initiate international cultural dialogue has always inspired Wu Promotion to continue its journey as an advocate of the arts," says Wu Jiatong, president of Wu Promotion Co Ltd. "This new long-term exclusive partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker has laid a milestone for the further development of Wu Promotion in its 30th year." The Berliner Philharmoniker went on its inaugural tour of China under the direction of Herbert von Karajan in the autumn of 1979, becoming one of the first foreign orchestras to tour the country. In 2005, the orchestra toured China with its then chief conductor, Sir Simon Rattle. This tour was later brought to a worldwide audience in the film Trip to Asia. The orchestra again visited China in 2011 and 2017. In 2017, music lovers in Shanghai waited in line for two consecutive nights to buy tickets to the Berliner Philharmoniker concerts. The next year, Gustavo Dudamel led the orchestra on a tour of Asia, which again included China. The announcement of the new residency project has "greatly boosted confidence for the global music scene that went through a downturn because of the pandemic," says Zhu Yuan, a journalist and culture critic with Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News. More importantly, she notes that this development shows "how China is adjusting to resume a normal life as the pandemic goes on". Meanwhile, Jiang Fang, another prominent culture critic, comments in an editorial in Wenhui Daily that this new partnership highlights the draw that Shanghai, a city with rich cultural and musical heritage, has on foreign orchestras. "This shows the great confidence that the live-show industry all over the world has in China's counter-pandemic achievements, as well as Shanghai's rising importance as a global performing arts center," he writes. According to Lei Wen, general manager of Shanghai Oriental Art Center, the theater fostered a strategic partnership with two renowned orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra in the United States and the Wiener Philharmoniker, in 2016. Although neither of them could tour Shanghai last year as planned, they have expressed a strong interest in returning this year to perform at the Shanghai art center. While the pandemic prevented many international music groups from touring in 2020, communications among them never stopped. The New York Philharmonic, for example, went on to fulfill its commitment with the Shanghai Orchestra Academy by conducting lectures via online platforms. Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Orchestra approached the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra to solicit advice on the performance of Butterfly Lovers, a widely popular violin concerto by Chinese composers Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, as it was planning to perform the piece at a special Lunar New Year celebration concert. The director of the Shanghai Philharmonic, Sun Hong, also tells Wenhui Daily that the orchestra has maintained close communications with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and "both companies hope to carry out more exchange events after the pandemic".