In 2015 President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that 2016 would be U.S.-China Tourism Year—and The Philadelphia Orchestra played a major role in its Closing Ceremony, which took place Sunday, November 20, at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. In recognition of the Orchestra's rich and deep history of pioneering cultural diplomatic initiatives globally—dating back to its first trip to China at the request of President Nixon in 1973, the first visit to the country by an American orchestra—the Chinese and U.S. government officials who designed the U.S.-China Tourism Year specifically requested that members of The Philadelphia Orchestra perform side-by-side with members of the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra.
Throughout 2016, the Department of Commerce worked with the China National Tourism Administration, Brand USA, the U.S. Travel Association, and other partners to promote travel and tourism between the United States and China. The goal was to help spread the economic benefits of Chinese tourism throughout the US while also enhancing the tourism experience, improving cultural understanding, and instilling an appreciation for America’s natural landscapes.
Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus catch up at the VIP reception prior to the Closing Ceremony. They last saw one another in Beijing when the Ambassador hosted a reception at his residence during the Orchestra's latest tour. They discussed cultural diplomatic innovations and the new ventures that will be explored when the Orchestra embarks on its 2017 Tour of Asia and China Residency. Photo by Scott Suchman
Lio Kuokman, conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Asian Residency, leads members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra in a program of works including Barber’s Adagio for Strings; an excerpt from Chen and He’s The Butterfly Lovers; the first movement from Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik; traditional Chinese folk music; and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Photo by Scott Suchman
Approximately 800 people attended the closing event at the Warner Theatre. Photo by Scott Suchman
Kuokman and the combined orchestras acknowledge the audience’s applause following the performance. The Philadelphia Orchestra’s prominent participation reflected the respect and recognition it has earned over time as a leader in using the power of music, onstage and off, to foster increased cross-cultural understanding. Photo by Scott Suchman