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US orchestra visits 5 cities in debut China tour

Updated: 2018-05-18 10:28:41

( China Daily )

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Pacific Symphony performs under the baton of conductor Carl St. Clair in the capital on Tuesday, wrapping up the orchestra’s China tour. [Photo By Wang Xiaojing / For China Daily]

Speaking about her experience with the symphony, Shi says: "The orchestra has built a good relationship with the Chinese-American community by introducing various educational programs."

Giving details, she says one program is called Strings for Generations, and it teaches Chinese families to play instruments and perform together.

Meanwhile, Carl St. Clair, 66, the music director of Pacific Symphony since 1990, was invited to be a guest conductor for the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Hangzhou Philharmonic and Guiyang Symphony Orchestra.

During their China tour, Pacific Symphony performed repertoires that include three short pieces from Leonard Bernstein, to mark the composer's centenary this year.

Besides, they have also performed works by Mozart, Mussorsky and Ravel.

Separately, Israeli-American violinist Pinchas Zukerman accompanied the orchestra during the tour, playing as soloist, performing Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3.

At the NCPA in Beijing, Zukerman also performed the theme of the 1993 film Schindler's List by John Williams and invited the audience to sing along with him on Johannes Brahms' Lullaby.

Giving details about how he chose the music for the tour, St. Clair, a friend of Chinese conductor Chen Zuohuang since 1978 when they met at the University of Michigan, says: "I carefully selected the repertoire to show off Pacific Symphony's energetic spirit and warm sonority."

St. Clair, who was mentored by the late American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, first met Bernstein in the summer of 1985, when St. Clair was a conducting fellow at Tanglewood, studying conducting under his teacher Gustav Meier, who headed the program there.

St. Clair then became a student of Bernstein, who called him "cowboy" since St. Clair was born in Texas.

In 1990, Bernstein conducted his last concert, leading the Boston Symphony to perform Beethoven's Seventh Symphony at Tanglewood. But Bernstein was not able to conduct the premiere of his newly orchestrated final work, Arias and Barcarolles, so he turned that over to St. Clair, then a 38-year-old assistant conductor of Boston Symphony.

Speaking about that experience, St. Clair says: "I will never forget each lesson he gave me. It's hard to imagine that he has been gone for 28 years. For every piece I play onstage, I remember what he told me: to keep the flag of creating music flying and to give back.

St. Clair says when the orchestra toured China, they selected repertoires they enjoy and shared music with the audience.

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