LSM Newswire

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin Leads The Philadelphia Orchestra on 2014 Tour of Asia, his Inaugural Tour with the Orchestra


Three-Week Tour includes 2014 China Residency and Visits to Japan and Taiwan, with Concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, Shenzhen, Macao, Tokyo, and Taipei

Tan Dun is Artistic Advisor of the Orchestra’s 2014 China Concerts and Residency Activities; hisNu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women to be performed in three cities in China

Violinist Akiko Suwanai joins Orchestra as soloist in Tokyo for one performance only of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

(PhiladelphiaApril 22, 2014)— The Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the world’s most renowned ensembles and cultural emissaries, today announced details of its 2014 Tour of Asia and China Residency. The tour marks Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s inaugural tour with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and honors the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. Beginning May 21 and closing June 6, 2014, the tour covers major cities in mainland China including Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, and Shenzhen, where Mr. Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestra will present works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler, along with a special performance of Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women by world-renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun, dedicated to audiences in China. In addition to the mainland cities, the Orchestra also makes a return trip to Macao for the second consecutive year before continuing on to concerts in Tokyo, Japan. The Orchestra concludes its 2014 Tour of Asia with a concert in Taipei, Taiwan.

Mr. Nézet-Séguin, who became the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the 2012-13 season, has taken the ensemble to new musical heights through concerts in Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The New York Times has called Nézet-Séguin “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble, famous for its glowing strings and homogenous richness, has never sounded better.” He is music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, as well as principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic. He has made wildly successful appearances with the world’s most revered ensembles, and is recognized throughout Europe and North America as a musical leader of the highest caliber.

“Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s inaugural tour with The Philadelphia Orchestra marks a moment of pride and celebration for us, as we share with the world the remarkable relationship that has flowered between music director and musicians,” says Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “We are privileged to begin this tour in China, paying tribute to The Philadelphia Orchestra’s deep historical roots and growing musical partnership with the people of China. We look forward equally to greeting our longtime friends in Japan and Taiwan, welcoming new Orchestra fans throughout the entire tour, united all through the common language of music.” 

“I have always had the utmost reverence for The Philadelphia Orchestra’s rich history, and its many years of touring is an important part of that history,” says Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “I am proud to now become part of this tradition and join with my musicians as musical ambassadors on our first tour together to Asia. I am deeply honored that we will perform for the first time in China a work that celebrates China’s own history and culture, by one of China’s esteemed composers, Tan Dun. We welcome violinist Akiko Suwanai as guest soloist in Tokyo, and look forward to performing for Taipei audiences for the first time in a decade. We are eager to embark on this tour, and to share the magic of our Philadelphia Sound with the world.” 

The Philadelphia Orchestra and China
With the 2014 Asia Tour and China Residency, The Philadelphia Orchestra builds upon the tremendous success of its previous two years of residency work in China and continues to engage Chinese music lovers both in concert halls and through community engagement. In 2012 the ensemble reconnected with its historical roots in China and more deeply embraced its role as a cultural ambassador by launching a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing, a pilot residency that united the Orchestra with talented young Chinese musicians and composers to further develop their orchestral skills. The residency also served to bring orchestral music, through performances and master classes, not only to China’s major cities but also further into the provinces, and to connect through the hearts of local musicians to their supporting communities, through the sharing of musical talents between its own musicians and Chinese musicians, engaging in music education, and spreading the joy of classical music with citizens in residential neighborhoods and at landmark historic sites. The success of this pilot program was confirmed when the Orchestra and the NCPA signed a long-term agreement to extend this partnership into future residency programs, and in May-June 2013 the Orchestra triumphantly returned for its Residency and Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China — with over 50 activities in 15 days.

The innovative program continues to represent a bridge for cultural, educational, and diplomatic exchange between China and the United States, as the two nations celebrate 35 years of diplomatic relations. Since 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon asked the Orchestra to be the first U.S. orchestra to perform in China, the ensemble has enjoyed a unique and special relationship with China and its people. Twenty years after its first arrival in China, the Orchestra returned in 1993, 1996, 2001, 2008, and 2010, when it helped to open the World Expo in Shanghai, prior to its residencies in 2012 and 2013. The Philadelphia Orchestra’s visit to Changsha marks the first US orchestra to perform in that city and its performance in the Shenzhen Concert Hall will be the first by an American orchestra. Through a partnership with Xinhui Media Group the Orchestra’s May 25 concert at the Shanghai Grand Theatre will be webcast over the internet.

Tan Dun serves as artistic advisor of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2014 China concerts and residency activities. His Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women was written for Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen, and is a multimedia work based on a disappearing language created in Hunan, China, in the 13th century. The piece incorporates video and audio of the handful of remaining women who still speak the language with music for orchestra and solo harp, which the composer chose because it’s “the most feminine instrument.” “This language was passed on … always from a mother to daughter and always by singing,” says Tan Dun. “I want the harp to serve as a very, very dramatic sound source to link this ancient tradition of the women’s language—singing, and reading, and writing—to the future sounds of The Philadelphia Orchestra and modern orchestras.” Their songs, words, and images, captured in “micro-films” lasting about one to five minutes long, became the foundation for Nu Shu, which is a three-way commission between The Philadelphia Orchestra, the NHK Symphony, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and which received its American premiere on October 31, 2013, in Philadelphia under the baton of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Japan and Taiwan
Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s inaugural tour also makes stops in Japan and Taiwan. Akiko Suwanai is the featured soloist on the June 2 concert in Tokyo. The youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, she performs in concerts and recitals throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. In 2013 she founded the International Music Festival NIPPON, of which she is artistic director. She has won the International Paganini Competition in Italy, the International Japan Competition, and the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Belgium, among others. She studied at the Toho Gakuen School of Music with Toshiya Eto, at Columbia University and the Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay and Cho-Liang Lin, and at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin with Uwe Martin Haiberg. Suwanai performs on the Stradivarius 1714 “Dolphin,” previously owned by Jascha Heifetz, kindly loaned to her by the Nippon Music Foundation. She made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut in March 2004, under the baton of then-Music Director Wolfgang Sawallisch. The June 3 concert in Tokyo will be recorded by NHK for later broadcast on both radio and television.

The Orchestra’s last visit to Japan was in 2010. It first toured Japan in 1967 led by Eugene Ormandy, marking the Orchestra’s first tour of Asia and performing in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo.  In addition to subsequent tours of Japan with Mr. Ormandy, the Orchestra also visited and performed in the country with Riccardo Muti, Mr. Sawallisch, Christoph Eschenbach, and Charles Dutoit. The Orchestra first performed in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1999 with Mr. Sawallisch and again in 2005 with Mr. Eschenbach. This tour marks the first visit since 2005.

Corporate Support
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2014 Tour of Asia and China Residency is made possible through the generous support of valued sponsors and partners. The Venetian Macao is serving as Platinum Sponsor of the Residency and Tour for the second consecutive year. SupportingSponsors are Coca-Cola China and Ruder Finn Asia, while the Collaborative Partners include National Music Industry Park (Shanghai) andShanghai Synergy Culture & Entertainment GroupUnited is the Official Airline of the 2014 China Residency and Tour of Asia. White and Williams, LLP is the Official Law Partner in China and Drexel University is the Official Education Partner in China. Additional support is provided by the Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaHSBC, and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

About The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of innovation in music-making. The Orchestra is inspiring the future and transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging—and exceeding—that level by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly opened his inaugural season as the eighth artistic leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 2012. His highly collaborative style, deeply-rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times has called him “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble … has never sounded better.” He is embraced by the musicians of the Orchestra, audiences, and the community itself. His concerts of diverse repertoire attract sold-out houses, and he has established a regular forum for connecting with concert-goers through Post-Concert Conversations.

Under Nézet-Séguin’s leadership the Orchestra returns to recording with a newly-released CD on the Deutsche Grammophon label of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions. In his inaugural season the Orchestra has also returned to the radio airwaves, with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

Philadelphia is home and the Orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center but also those who enjoy the Orchestra’s other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn’s Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music, a National Historic Landmark.

The Philadelphia Orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 the Orchestra has reinvigorated and launched newpartnerships with Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (FringeArts), Philadanco, the Curtis Institute of Music, Ridge Theater Company, and stage director James Alexander, among others.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973
at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the
National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The ensemble annually performs at Carnegie Hall while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, New York, and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail Festival.

The Philadelphia Orchestra continues its decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages across the Delaware Valley. Concerts for families and schoolchildren; eZseatU, which allows full-time college students to attend an unlimited number of Orchestra concerts for a $25 annual membership fee; free Neighborhood Concerts; and PreConcert Conversations before every subscription concert are only a few examples of ways in which the Orchestra introduces orchestral music to a new generation of listeners.

Musician-led initiatives, including recent highly-successful PlayINs, shine a spotlight on the Orchestra’s musicians, as they spread out from the stage into the community, and serve a key role in growing young musician talent and a love of classical music in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors.   

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org.

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