Sydney Symphony Orchestra celebrates 45 years of China-Australia relations

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The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has celebrated 45 years of bilateral relations between Australian and China by performing to audiences in Shanghai and Beijing.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra  (SSO) has capped off a week-long tour of China by performing at the capital’s National Centre for Performing Arts.

“It’s great for the orchestra to play in these fabulous halls and to hear themselves, it’s almost like playing with a different music instrument,” says SSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director David Robertson. “You learn more things about yourself and the exchanges with the audience have been just spell-binding.”

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform in Beijing's National Center for Performing Arts

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra rehearse in Beijing ahead of their performance celebrating 45 years of Australia-China relations

During the tour works of Tchaikovsky and Prokovfiev were performed along with traditional Chinese music, and an Australian composition. ‘Spirit of the Wild’ was inspired by the Tasmanian landscape and composed by Nigel Westlake for the orchestra’s principle oboe player Diana Doherty.

“Music has a way of evoking emotion, inspiring feelings that maybe you can’t articulate with words,” says Ms Doherty.

The SSO was also joined by virtuoso Japanese-born American violinist Midori Goto.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform in Beijing's National Center for Performing Arts

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra rehearses in Beijing for a performance celebrating 45 years of Australia-China bilateral relations

David Robertson said the three performances were enthusiastically received. “You have audiences where the whooping and hollering is so exciting you might mistakenly think for a moment that you were at the Olympics when somebody has just won the gold medal!” says Mr Robertson.

For second violinist, Chinese-Australian Shuti Huang, it was a heartfelt return to his birth country.

“Every time I come to China, particularly shanghai my home town, I was always get very emotional and excited,” said Mr Huang.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform in Beijing's National Center for Performing Arts

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra rehearses in Beijing for a performance celebrating 45 years of Australia-China bilateral relations

During a one-day workshop with the Shanghai Orchestra Academy, three students were picked to complete a residency in Australia later this year. The program aims to cultivate musical ties between the two countries.

This was the orchestra’s fifth tour to China since 2008. The celebration of 45 years of bilateral relations also coincided with the 10th anniversary of Beijing’s iconic venue. Before the final performance the SSO renewed its Memoranda of Understanding with the National Centre for Performing Arts.

“It really is very appropriate that one of the major celebrations of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations highlights the connections between two great cultural institutions from two great cities,” said Australian Ambassador to China Jan Adams, at a post-performance reception hosted by the Australian embassy.

SBS News

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