Top German orchestra has ‘zero awareness in China’

Top German orchestra has ‘zero awareness in China’


norman lebrecht

January 16, 2014

A report from our correspondent Rudolph Tang in Shanghai:

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig is giving two concerts mid March at Shanghai Oriental Art Centre. In order to promote the concerts, several volunteers led by a SHOAC staff member conducted a street survey.

On a rainy morning of January 11, 2014, they set out for two shopping malls of the financial district and downtown area of Shanghai across the Huangpu River (both are tourism spots), asking 100 passers-by: ever heard of Leipzig? ever heard of Gewandhaus Orchestra? Exactly 17 of them got Leipzig. None had heard of Gewandhaus.

Next day, two newspapers in Shanghai reported: World class orchestra meets zero awareness. The report went on to point out unsatisfactory ticket sales of Gewandhaus’s Shanghai concerts five years ago. Sounds like the orchestra has some work to do.

shanghai survey


  • Rudolph Tang says:

    Blunt idea to ask people ever heard of Gewandhaus in shopping malls, and to get the job done by volunteers. One of the worst marketing gimmicks.

  • Will Duffay says:

    You could do the same in London and get a similar response. (I’m not sure if that says something about the marginalisation of the arts in the UK or about the relatively low profile of the orchestra…).

  • David H. says:

    That orchestra has no work to do there. It’s working enough and very well. Maybe the agents and marketing people have work to do. And the potential audience has to work, since we all know that half of the work in any classical music performance has to be done by the audience anyway.

  • Simon says:

    17 out of 100 people in Shanghai have heard of Leipzig before. Not bad. Leipzig is the 12th largest city of Germany. 520k inhabitants. According to Wikipedia, the 12th largest city of China is Shenyang, with no less than 5.7m inhabitants.

    Just go to Leipzig and ask the people if they have ever heard of Shenyang before. (I haven’t, by the way.)

  • I agree, it is no fault of the Leipzig team at all. The orchestra has been around longer than any other and at the top of its game right now. Any Chinese citizens who are even reasonably interested in international orchestras would have heard of them?

  • Rgiarola says:

    The only fact here is the line: “unsatisfactory ticket sales of Gewandhaus’s Shanghai concerts five years ago”. As far as I know most classical artists get sold out concerts in China, or at the least the top ones. Am I wrong?

    If you perform similar survey at São Paulo/Brazil, the results will be very similar. However last time Gewandhaus, tickets sold out 2 months before. On June 2014, Bavarian Radio will be here and it is expected similar speed of sales. What Brazil and China got in common? Millions of people and especially in cities such São Paulo and Shanghai. There isn’t any scientific method on conducting a survey along just 100 people in very specific spots of the city. Ask the same thing to 100 people getting out of a Yu Long concert with Shanghai Symphony, in the city Symphony hall. The result will be drastically different.

  • robcat2075 says:

    If they were clever, they’d recruit a few (qualified, of course) Chinese musicians into their ranks and make them available for interviews in the media to get more attention. It works for basketball.