This is being written in Europe, where at festival after festival, competition after competition, Chinese players are performing – and very consistently winning. At one time it would be rare to find a symphony orchestra with Chinese members. Now the reverse is true.
In 1973, as the US began reestablishing diplomatic ties with China, President Nixon sent the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra to Beijing. It was the first time an American symphony orchestra had performed in China since 1949. Now, this week, the same orchestra has returned.
The orchestra played Tchaikovsky’s most well-known (and difficult) Violin Concerto in D major, along with rousing pieces by Rachmaninoff and Ravel.
The New York Times reports this was the opening night of the orchestra’s latest diplomatic mission to China: its performance in Shanghai on Friday, at the Chinese government’s invitation, as the first foreign ensemble to play at the 2010 World Expo.