40 Years Later, Philadelphia Orchestra Returns to China

Forty years after it became the first U.S. orchestra to visit China, the Philadelphia Orchestra is planning to go back with a new tour and new program.

The orchestra on Wednesday announced plans for a summer tour and outreach program that will visit Hangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing and Macao between May 29 and June 10.

In addition to performances the orchestra plans a grassroots exchange with young Chinese musicians.

Donald Runnicles will conduct seven performances during the tour. Under legendary conductor Eugene Ormandy the orchestra visited China in 1973 as part of a historic thaw in relations between the two countries.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary musicians from the China National Symphony Orchestra and musicians from The Philadelphia Orchestra will come together for a celebratory performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on June 6.

The Philadelphia Orchestra said it "looks toward a rich future in China" defined by a commitment to serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States.

The tour is part of a rebuilding project that began after the orchestra stunned music lovers in 2011 by becoming the first major U.S. orchestra to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The world-renowned 112-year-old orchestra had struggled with dwindling attendance and donations, shrinking endowment income, the recession and an aging audience.

The orchestra emerged from bankruptcy last year. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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