Birmingham orchestra tour celebrates a century of friendship

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The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has just concluded its first tour in China, from late December in Guangzhou, Changsha, Shanghai to Beijing on Jan 5. The orchestra, which is composed of around 85musicians, performed Elgar's Enigma Variations as well as music of Tchaikovsky, Pablo de Sarasate and Dvorak under the baton of conductor Vassily Sinaisky.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra performed at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Jan 5 under the baton of conductor Vassily Sinaisky. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"I have performed in China with London Philharmonic Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra many years ago. I am surprised to see that there are many young people come to our concerts during the tour," says the conductor, who has been with CBSO for nearly 20 years. "We see lots of children come to our concerts. Their parents want their children to get classical music knowledge, not just for education but also for moral sense, which is very good for the future."

Based at Birmingham's Symphony Hall, CBSO, which was founded by Birmingham's civic leaders as away of restoring the city's confidence immediately after the World War I, gave its first symphonic concert in 1920 and performs more than 100 concerts each year in Birmingham, around the UK and overseas.

"CBSO also manages three symphonic choruses, a community choir, a youth orchestra, and a music teaching program every year.We would love to bring our music teaching program to China in the future. It's vital to train the next generation musicians," says Stephen Maddock, chief executive of CBSO, who has been with the orchestra for 18 years.

As the sponsor of CBSO's tour of China, the University of Birmingham, according to its vice-chancellor, Sir David Eastwood, also has a strong musical connection with China. The first original Chinese violin composition, titled Difficult Road (Xing Lu Nan), was composed in 1919 by the university's famous geology alumnus Li Siguang (1889-1971).

The university's relationship with China dates back to the foundation of the university. The first Chinese student joined the university in 1907 and there are now more than 14,000 Chinese alumni.

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