This is first-class: on a plane stuck on the Beijing airport tarmac for three hours yesterday, a quartet of musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestras took out their instruments, gathered in the aisle, and serenaded passengers. The music starts at the 1:11 mark in the above.
The quartet performed here on Thursday evening, and will be playing in Macau tonight and tomorrow to wrap up its China tour — a somewhat historic one, it turns out. As New York Times notes:
If Ping-Pong diplomacy is what paved the way for President Richard M. Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972 to re-establish the United States’ official relationship with China, then one could say it was the visit by the Philadelphia Orchestra the following year that truly cemented it. Personally chosen by President Nixon himself, the Philadelphia Orchestra was one of the first cultural delegations to be sent to China that followed Nixon’s visit. The orchestra’s performance in 1973 in front of a packed audience at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in the heart of Beijing was the first-ever given by an American orchestra in Communist-led China.
Now, 40 years later, the Philadelphia Orchestra is commemorating the anniversary of its visit with a two-week, multicity tour of China, consisting of multiple concerts, small pop-up performances at important cultural sites, master classes, lectures and community outreach visits. The tour concludes on Sunday night with a concert in Macau.
Flight delays in China are routine, causing flayed nerves and flaring tempers, but a live classical performance can go a long way to making things right. “Magical,” says NPR. “Beautiful,” says Shanghaiist. All of the above.
Juliette Kang, violin
Daniel Han, violin
Che-Hung Chen, viola
Yumi Kendall, cello