Culture\Music and Theater

Orchestra builds cultural bridges

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-06 07:14

LONDON - The London Symphony Orchestra has begun an intensive period of cultural bridge-building with China aimed at promoting East-West ties and mutual understanding. LSO has completed its sixth China tour.

"We are really building the connections between East and West," says LSO managing director Kathryn McDowell.

The orchestra, whose London home is at the Barbican Concert Hall, first toured China in 2004, a special honor for the orchestra because it was also the centenary year of the LSO, says McDowell.

"We have been going every two or three years since. We have been building our relationships and profile," she adds.

This year's tour marks an increased intensity of engagement.

"We are looking to be in China every year for the next few years. It is about stepping up the commitment. This is the first of our annual tours for the next three years through to 2019," she says.

McDowell has been managing director of the LSO since 2005, and it was under her stewardship that the orchestra began to step up its China focus.

She says she has seen a positive change in British-Chinese cultural relations.

The enhancement of cultural ties between the two nations has come at the same time as a growth in the number of concert halls in China, and a related growth in interest in Western classical music.

The LSO played at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Shanghai Symphony Hall, and in Wuhan, the capital of Central China's Hubei province.

"Chinese audiences have changed very much. There are new concert halls in so many places," says McDowell.

She praises the relatively new Qintai Concert Hall in Wuhan, where the LSO was the first foreign orchestra to play.

"It is very exciting to be in at the point where new audiences are being developed and where a whole interest in orchestral music is building. We are looking for ways in which we can help that grow and develop," she says.

McDowell says the touring program of two different but well-respected pieces from the Western tradition - Rachmaninoff's 2nd Symphony and Mahler's 4th - were chosen because of their appeal for an audience keen for the best of the Western classical music tradition.


 Orchestra builds cultural bridges

Wang Yuja performs with the London Symphony Orchestra in Guangzhou in 2014. Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 03/06/2017 page20)

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