This year has seen an extraordinary level of activity in China by our principal orchestras. Following the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s visit to Shanghai in April, we are now seeing the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra about to mount tours to China in coming months.
First, WASO will set off in October for performances in Beijing and Shanghai. Intended to develop its links with the China Philharmonic Orchestra, with which it signed a partnership last year, this will be the orchestra’s first visit to China since 2006. On that occasion it toured Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.
This second visit marks a significant strengthening in the orchestra’s cultural orientation towards China. Principal Conductor Asher Fisch remarked: “Does it really do something to go to Europe or the United States? I think not. The Pacific Rim is where we should tour. We should make our reputation as an orchestra of note in this very music-loving region. I hope we can make this a pattern rather than a one-off.”
At the end of the year the TSO plans to head off on a week-long tour to Jiangsu Province, Shanghai and Tasmania’s sister-state, Fujian Province. It visited China once before, in 1998. A company called Reckless Moments, which manages a portfolio of cultural programs between Australia and China, is organising the tour. Before it goes ahead, however, finances still need to be finalised. The TSO’s calendar states: “This tour is currently unconfirmed awaiting funding approvals. The TSO Board will announce if this tour will go ahead.” We hope it all comes together.
The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is wasting no time either. In July it announced it had received a “major gift to support ASO’s Chinese connections”. The benefactor, Adelaide general practitioner Dr Sing Ping Ting, is a music lover and frequenter of ASO concerts. ASO Managing Director Vincent Ciccarello said the gift will go towards “a range of activities focusing on China and the local Chinese community, such as musician exchanges, the commissioning of new music, awarding music scholarships, and the presentation of special concerts.”
It will be interesting to see what develops out of the ASO’s China plans.