Here’s A Philadelphia Orchestra Performance Of Dvorak On An Airplane In Beijing

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.

The musicians:

Juliette Kang, violin
Daniel Han, violin
Che-Hung Chen, viola
Yumi Kendall, cello

6 Responses to “Here’s A Philadelphia Orchestra Performance Of Dvorak On An Airplane In Beijing”

  1. wafflestomp

    Love the typical Chinese crowding and taking photos en mass, instead of enjoying it. I’m shocked they even clapped

    Reply
  2. Redthump

    @wafflestomp – you tell me you won’t join the folks to crowd and take photos when your beloved rock star just so happened to perform live on the plane?

    Reply
    • wafflestomp

      I doubt a rock star would be performing on a grounded plane. If he/she was, I would enjoy the performence instead of recording it so I can have 1/10th of the enjoyment later. Kind of why watching someone sing on youku isn’t the same as live.

      Go to HK disney and see the performences, the no flash photography sign is a good laugh. Had the plane’s cabin been any darker I’m sure the musicians would be blinded.

      Reply
  3. Redthumb

    I was amazed that a renowned orchestra actually performed on a grounded plane. Interesting things do happen from time to time. In this case, a handful of people got excited about the whole scene after waiting on the plane for 3 hours and they reacted to it in a friendly way. I wonder if the performers would have felt more welcomed and appreciated should everyone was sitting cool and cold.

    Flash photography at Disney performances was annoying and could cause harm to performers which is equally inconsiderate and ignorant, if not more, to some parts of the Great Wall that are covered with graffiti, names and phrases scrawled in English and French, worse yet, they are irreparable…

    Reply
    • CT

      “some parts of the Great Wall that are covered with graffiti, names and phrases scrawled in English and French, worse yet, they are irreparable…”

      Every part of the great wall that tourists go to has been rebuilt in the recent years. All repairable.

      Reply

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