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Musical reunion spreads notes of harmony

By Chen Nan Source: China Daily Updated: 2023-11-15


A children's choir performs the Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Thursday in Beijing. [Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Memories shared

The pair shared memories of the rehearsals they had together in Beijing, which included playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony under the baton of conductors Li Delun (1917-2001) and Ormandy. They agreed that these rehearsals seemed "just like yesterday".

Booth said: "It (the meeting with Zhu) gave me goose bumps. This is the greatest thing. We have built relationships, we have built friendships with people for such a long time. This is definitely a highlight of my trip to China."

After their short meeting, they walked to the NCPA concert hall, where musicians from the China National Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra were rehearsing for a concert that night.

Booth took out his violin and sat among the musicians from both orchestras on the stage, while Zhu sat in the last row of seats, watching quietly.

The musicians performed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide, and Chinese works such as The Moon Reflected on the Erquan Spring by composer Hua Yanjun. This work, arranged by Wu Zuqiang, was also played during the Philadelphia Orchestra's China tour in 1973.

The music was played under the batons of Li Xincao, chief conductor of the China National Symphony Orchestra, and Tristan Rais-Sherman from the US, who was named assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in June.

In September, the US orchestra announced on the anniversary of its first concert in China 50 years ago that 13 of its members planned to travel to China for residency activities to mark the occasion.

Booth is the only member of the latest tour who joined the orchestra's visit to China in 1973.

Matias Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, said: "Music has the power to connect and build bridges. We are delighted to commemorate the orchestra's historic 1973 tour and our 50-year relationship with the people of China during this residency.

"The 1973 tour is remembered to this day by many in China as a symbol of deep musical friendship, and we hope that our music-making will continue to build bridges between our people and cultures."

A special ceremony took place before the concert at the NCPA on Friday, which was hosted by China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism and organized by China Arts and Entertainment Group.

Tarnopolsky presented a complete score of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to the China National Symphony Orchestra, which Tarnopolsky said was a symbol of gratitude. Rais-Sherman also presented Li Xincao with a baton.

"During their meeting in Beijing in 1973, the Central Philharmonic Society of China presented a beautiful gift to the Philadelphia Orchestra — a Chinese percussion instrument," Tarnopolsky said.

"Ormandy, our music director at the time, played Beethoven's Fifth Symphony after receiving that gift. Now, 50 years on, we would like to express our gratitude and give you this score in return."

The China National Symphony Orchestra gave the US ensemble a complete score of the classic Chinese work Ode to the Red Flag composed by Lyu Qiming, and a vinyl disc of the Chinese piano concerto The Yellow River.

Tarnopolsky said: "It's exciting to see musicians from the two countries playing side by side. We are unified, and music is truly a universal language."

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