Another Barenboim rises in Beijing

Another Barenboim rises in Beijing


norman lebrecht

January 17, 2012

Our China correspondent, Rudolph Tang of Klassikom, reports the emergence of a third orchestra in Beijing:

The Beijing Symphony Orchestra, long overshadowed by two state-funded rivals, has been promised a minimum 50 million RMB (US$7.5 million) grant from the Beijing municipal government and, according to its music director Lihua TAN, BSO will embark on two European tours in 2012.

The new season boasts of a glittering array of international celebrities, notably Christoph Eschenbach, Lawrence Foster, Michael Barenboim, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuri Bashmet, James Judd, Thomas Sanderling and Vadim Repin. Due to shortage of funds, BSO is always considered a low-key and lesser orchestra in Beijing, after the bombastic China Philharmonic Orchestra and the self-content China National Symphony Orchestra. BSO had to cancel a European tour due to low budget and paperwork procrastinations two years ago. The Beijing Daily, a newspaper under the administration of the city government, offered a large coverage on BSO’s limbo situation in March last year and subsequently won attention from the city fathers. Qi LIU, party leader of Beijing, paid a high-profile visit to BSO in July last year and pledged to “revitalise the orchestra with all means”.

NL adds: The Michael Barenboim you spotted in there is the violinist son of Daniel and Elena Bashkirova, who is taking his first steps on the international circuit. More details here.

Back to Rudolph Tang, with a UK exclusive: BSO will inaugurate the London Beijing Cultural Week at the Royal Festival Hall in July by a concert with LPO featuring Jianping TANG’s percussion concerto “Olympic Fire” and Beethoven 9th conducted by TAN himself, followed by an extensive tour in Berlin, Koln, Amsterdam and Turkey. BSO also presented the renowned percussionist Biao LI as its first ever artist-in-residence together with two new recording project to be released by EMI China.

NL adds: The London festival has not yet – apparently – been announced. You read it here first. It means London will be getting two Beethoven 9th performances in a matter of days, the other conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the BBC Proms.

Rudolph again: The new season kicks off on February 8th with music by two living Chinese composers Qianyi ZHANG and Xilin WANG as BSO’s standing and signature commitment to contemporary Chinese music. In addition, TAN disclosed the idea to host a Forbidden City Int’l Arts Festival and projected it as “people’s festival”, a remark viewed by some as a polite reference to the “sponsors and officials’ festival” like the Beijing Music Festival. New initiatives of the 2012 season also include a permanent residency at the Forbidden City Concert Hall and moving of its HQ from a remote and modest building to a peaceful location within the Forbidden City compound, both under the city authority.

One of the government officials presiding over the press conference was quoted as saying “we aim to build BSO as a leading orchestra in the world”.


  • Rudolph Tang says:

    Michael Barenboim made his China debut with WEDO last year in Beijing and Shanghai. He was the concertmaster.

  • ariel says:

    Must be a slow day when announcing what violinist sits where as news . Shouldn’t this all be listed somewhere
    under politics .

  • Ziggy says:

    TWO “Odes to Joy”…O Dear. Thank you for the warning; at least I can miss the Proms performance!