US orchs are beating the Europeans in China

A couple of weeks back, we received a press release of a link-up between a Chicago classical station and one in Shanghai.  Nice idea: it will be the first time that concerts by leading US orchs will be heard regularly on radio in China, and vice versa.

Starting this month, the New York Philharmonic, LA Phil and San Fran Symphony will air in Shanghai; in April, the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival will go live on several radio stations in the US.

This is very much a sign of the times.

The NY Phil’s player/teacher exchange with the Shanghai Symphony goes live this summer. Trips by other US orchs are no longer diplomatic showpieces but genuine educational interactions with Chinese musicians and audiences. There are some signs of Chinese traditional music finding a foothold in the US.

Ronald Sadoff of New York University tells Chinese media: ‘There is a genuine cultural interchange here, but it appears to transpire as a two-way street, with Chinese classical music coming this way and Western music going that way.’

All of this is much to be applauded – except in Europe, where multiple orchestral tours have led to no significant involvement. Europe lags far behind the leading US orchs in China, and it may be too late to catch up.

shanghai new hall

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  • Thanks for calling attention to this historic cultural exchange via radio. Weekly broadcast concerts by the NY Phlharmonic, LA Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony will begin airing on Shanghai East Radio/94.7 starting January 9th at 7:00 p.m. In April, we’ll be in Shanghai to create a series of two-hour programs feauturing a wide variety of performances from the 2015 Shanghai Spring International Music Festival. The programs will air in the U.S. and other countries starting in the fall of 2015.

    This cultural exchange is the work of the WFMT Radio Network. We’re affiliated with Chicago radio station WFMT but unlike WFMT which has been serving the Chicago area with classical music since 1961, the Network specializes in producing and syndicating classical and other programs throughout the world.

    Steve Robinson
    General Manager
    WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network
    Chicago, IL 60625
    srobinson@wfmt.com

  • All this is understandable if one assumes China has no internet access and can only receive radio signals. If one assumes otherwise, the internet allows vastly more access to European concerts and opera and has the benefit of a moving image.

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