Friends Old and New: The Philadelphia Orchestra Triumphs Again in China
Judging by the audience response, the Pearl River Delta Residency was a smashing success. Over the past week, as part of the Orchestra’s ongoing strategic partnership with China, musicians from the ensemble led by Assistant Conductor Lio Kuokman delighted music-lovers from Hong Kong to Macao to Shenzhen.
Feb. 3: (L to r) Cellist Alex Veltman, Acting Assistant Principal Cello John Koen, and cellist Derek Barnes perform for the elderly at the Caritas Center in Macao.
Feb. 3: Assistant Conductor Lio Kuokman leads musicians from Philadelphia and members of the Macao Youth Symphony in a side-by-side rehearsal.
Ode to Humanity by Shenzhen composer Wang Ning was especially well-received. Lio admits conducting in his hometown, Macao, was “a little emotional,” adding it was where he was inspired to become a musician 30 years ago. He says the children’s chorus is especially challenging, with a total of eight parts, but the young singers from Shenzhen Senior High rose to the occasion brilliantly.
Feb. 4: Members of The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Macao Orchestra, and the Shenzhen Symphony are joined by the Shenzhen Symphony Chorus and the Shenzhen Senior High Chorus for a performance of Ode to Humanity at the Venetian Macao, led by Lio Kuokman. The Venetian Macao was the Presenting Sponsor of the Pearl River Delta Residency Week.
Feb. 5: (L to r) Violist Burchard Tang, Acting Assistant Principal Cello John Koen, Associate Principal Second Violin Paul Roby, and violinist Elina Kalendarova are joined by a young fan after their performance at the Shenzhen Children’s Hospital.
Feb. 6: (L to r) Cellist Ohad Bar-David, violist David Nicastro, violinist Daniel Han, and violinist Yayoi Numazawa give a pop-up concert at Shenzhen Book City.
Feb. 6: At the same time a string quartet performed a pop-up concert at the Shenzhen Airport, a major international hub for China. After the event, Acting Assistant Principal Cello John Koen gives a budding musician a mini-lesson.
Feb. 7: The morning began with numerous master classes taught by Philadelphia Orchestra musicians at the Shenzhen Arts School. Horn player Jeffry Kirschen makes a point with a student.
Feb. 7: At the Shenzhen Arts School, First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang gives some hands-on instruction to a student.
Feb. 7: The 19 musicians from the Orchestra who participated in the Pearl River Delta Residency Week gather for a photograph backstage at the Shenzhen Concert Hall after the Ode to Humanity concert.
First Violinist Elina Kalendarova says she felt welcome everywhere during the entire Residency. For her, a special treat was hearing from Ambassador Nicholas Platt. He was instrumental in arranging the Orchestra’s diplomatic breakthrough tour in 1973, and managed to get to all the formal and pop-up performances during this Residency. “He said some very flattering things to us about our Orchestra, calling us a ‘legend.’”
Feb. 7: Ambassador Nicholas Platt, who helped facilitate the Orchestra’s historic 1973 Tour of China, gave a lecture entitled “China Now and Then” at Shenzhen Book City.
Summing up, Lio says “it was a great week for all of us!”