Reflecting on the National Symphony Orchestra’s recent tour of China and South Korea, Anne Midgette writes Monday (6/22) on her Washington Post blog Classical Beat, “One thing I expected to find in China but didn’t seem to encounter were huge audiences eager to hear Western music. The public was warm enough, but no more schooled, or numerous, than American audiences; Shanghai was the only sold-out venue.” Pre-concert announcements included “instructions about how many movements each piece had, and how the audience should uphold the country’s good image (or something along those lines) by not clapping in the wrong places. Yet the NSO musicians said the audiences were considerably more attentive (with fewer cell-phone interruptions) than they were 10 years ago. This made me wonder about how accurately the Chinese ‘hunger’ for Western music has been represented in the Western press. … Audience development appears to be a work in progress—something Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts is currently addressing with an exhibition about opera and outreach programs accompanying their opera festival.” The orchestra’s 10-day, six-concert tour of China and South Korea included stops in Macao, Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Seoul and Goyang.

Posted June 23, 2009