“In 1973, a young U.S. diplomat named Nicholas Platt was assigned the delicate task of organizing a China tour for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first American orchestra to play in the People’s Republic since its founding in 1949,” writes Trudy Rubin in Friday’s (5/3) Philadelphia Inquirer. “The Cultural Revolution had torn China apart and the risks such a venture faced were legion, recalls Platt…. But the orchestra’s visit, with Eugene Ormandy at the helm, became a milestone in U.S.-Chinese relations…. Now, after 12 concert tours to China, the orchestra is embarking on a five-city tour this month to mark 40 years of U.S.-China relations—at a time when those relations are severely strained by strategic tensions. …  Starting in 2012, the Philadelphia Orchestra has [expanded] its musical interactions to a wider level [with] master classes, and pop-up public concerts in community venues…. It is not so much that the orchestra surmounts politics as that it operates below the tensions at top government levels…. ‘When we play music and play with Chinese students it is about people-to-people exchange,’ says Matías Tarnopolsky, CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. ‘Whatever the political backdrop, music prevails.’ ”

Posted May 6, 2019

In photo: During the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2012 tour of China, pop-up concerts were presented at historic sites in Beijing. At the Temple of Heaven, from left: Philadelphia Orchestra violist Che-Hung Chen, Concertmaster David Kim, violinist Daniel Han, and Acting Associate Principal Cello Yumi Kendell. Photo by Chris Lee.