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Symphony orchestras gain ground in China

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-06-09 11:26

The number of symphony orchestras have ballooned in China over the past few years, according to China's Symphony Development Foundation.

Chen Guangxian, director of the foundation, said that there were around 30 professional symphony orchestras in China five years ago, with the number growing to 72 as of last year.

Chen was speaking at an international forum on the development of symphony orchestras in China at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center (SHOAC).

The forum was a platform for dialogue for the directors and conductors of more than 10 orchestras in China and the leaders of the Philadelphia Symphony.

Last year, SHOAC signed a five-year strategic deal with the Philadelphia Symphony. On May 26, the symphony gave its fifth performance at SHOAC.

According to Lei Wen, general manager of SHOAC, an increasing number of Chinese orchestras have been performing in China's theaters.

During the 2016-17 show season, 10 Chinese symphonies presented 16 concerts.

During the forum, Allison Vulgamore, president of the Philadelphia Symphony and Ryan Fleur, the executive vice president, shared the 117-year-old company's experience in planning concerts and show seasons, how it engages audiences and its management approach.

Tong Ming, director of the Ningbo Symphony Orchestra of Zhejiang province, was also in attendance to speak about the company's efforts in recent years.

"Our musicians would reach out to communities, enterprises and libraries and give free lectures about classical music. They would go on the stage to explain a piece before giving performance, and interact with audiences through online discussion groups," said Tong.

"We were honored to play at the Chopin Competition for Young Pianists last year. We played accompaniment for the contestants and often had to play the same piece many times. The collaboration with soloists and repeated performances was exactly what we needed as a young orchestra, though an established company may find it unacceptable," she added.

While each province has its own orchestra, a growing number of private symphonies have been emerging in China too. Chen attributed the rapid growth of symphony orchestras in China to the cultural development of Chinese people, as well as increasing support from the government.

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