LA Winds blow into China

Updated: 2013-12-24 07:58

By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York (China Daily USA)

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In a 12-day tour that will showcase American classics like "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "When the Saints Go Marching In", Pierce College's Los Angeles Symphonic Winds will bring a distinctively American concert sound to China next week.

"Our 2013 tour gives us the chance to present America's unique brand of concert band music to thousands of Chinese concert-goers, most of whom are unfamiliar with the concert band medium," said maestro Stephen Piazza of the trip, which will begin December 28.

"They don't know bands," Piazza told the Los Angeles Daily News of Chinese audiences. "They don't know concert bands, marching bands, oompah bands. This is a big deal, no question about it."

Seventy of the group's 100-member orchestra will perform six concerts in Beijing, Taicang, Nanchang, Ningbo and Hangzhou. The group will also have a chance to visit Shanghai's Bund promenade, and shopping mecca Huaihai Road.

"We hope to come away with a more profound understanding of the Chinese people and their own rich cultural heritage," Piazza said. "Even more important, however, is our mission to help the Chinese understand our own cultural heritage."

Founded in 1983, the LA Winds have previously toured the US, Europe and Canada, but this tour will be the group's first trip to Asia. The band known for its summer concert series in LA's Warner Center Park and a popular seniors' concert series featuring nostalgic songs of the past.

Former Governor Arnold Scharzenegger has called the LA Winds "one of the great cultural treasures of Los Angeles," noting the orchestra's "fantastic performances, elegant melodies and graceful harmonies".

Among the renowned symphony soloists that will join the group are flutist and Taiwan-native Wei-Li Kang, LA Winds alumni trombonist Sam Armstrong, visiting from the Curtis Institute of Music, and saxophonist Dale Underwood.

The orchestra raised $100,000 to make the trip, but the Chinese government will cover additional costs.

"The LA Winds have the opportunity to advance the cause of concert band music in the world's second largest and most rapidly growing economy, and it's our hope that the LA Winds will provide a source of inspiration for aspiring young Chinese wind players and their families so that wind players, wind ensembles and concert bands become an integral part of the Chinese cultural community," he said.

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