The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been chosen to partner with the China Philharmonic Orchestra for a celebration of China’s musical heritage at the Barbican Centre on Monday 16th September. This UK concert will be one of six taking place across the world, a global series that will showcase China’s rich cultural heritage and the strong artistic connections and collaboration between the East and West.

The RPO concert at the Barbican will present an evening of exquisite music reflecting China’s rich cultural heritage and evoking the natural beauty of this diverse country. The programme will feature works by China’s most famous composers, including the popular Yellow River Concerto, performed by Chinese piano virtuoso Wan Jieni. In a spirit of cooperation, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by Xu Zhong, General Director of Shanghai Opera.

At a time when Brexit has focused the British business community on the need to build bridges with countries and new markets beyond the EU, this concert underlines the important role the arts can play in forging Britain’s role on the world stage – specifically the ability of British ensembles to take a lead in fostering a spirit of unity and cooperation with countries and cultures with which Britain needs to forge deeper relationships. Recently named the world’s most in demand orchestra, the RPO’s international touring schedule includes regular visits to the USA, Middle East, Asia and Europe. It is within this context of international arts ambassador that the significance of this month’s celebration of Chinese culture can be best understood, as the concert also marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the China-UK diplomatic relationship at the level of charge d’affaires.

This global project, visiting a number of world centres for the arts, has been initiated by The China Philharmonic Orchestra, one of China’s leading symphony orchestras. Under the direction of Maestro Long Yu, the orchestra has been actively performing on stages across the world, with London and the UK high on the priority list. Wu Promotion, China’s first and leading performing arts promoter, is entrusted with this special project as organiser and facilitator. Not only does this concert celebrate China’s increasingly valued contribution to the western symphonic repertoire, but also recognises the growing importance of arts in Chinese society today. The number of arts groups in China has increased 17-fold in the last 70 years and China now has 17,000 arts groups which have made an important contribution to enriching people’s lives.

James Williams, Managing Director of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said: “Our recent appointment of Vasily Petrenko as the RPO’s new Music Director underlines our international vision for the future of orchestral music. Music is itself a universal language with the power to unite people of different countries, cultures and political viewpoints. Our celebration of China’s musical heritage, in partnership with our friends at the China Philharmonic Orchestra will enrich people’s understanding of the health and diversity of orchestral music globally. At a time of political divisions and economic uncertainty, no one should underestimate the power of music to unite people and remind us all of what we have in common.”

Yu Peng, Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in the UK added: “The 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China is a history of constant learning to benefit the public. The focus has mainly been on tackling the relationship between our own culture and other cultures, between tradition and modernity. For the former, we love our own culture as well as others’ – and modestly learn from other countries, big and small. For the latter we look to innovate. Thanks to the RPO, the concert at the Barbican will be a great opportunity for enjoyment and enlightenment, both in and beyond musical senses.”


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