Chinese orchestra to perform for Pope

By Chen Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-03 13:17

The Beijing-based China Philharmonic Orchestra is setting off on a three-city European tour and the first leg is Vatican. Under the baton of its artistic director Yu Long, the orchestra will perform for Pope Benedict XVI at Paul VI Audience Hall, the Vatican's principal auditorium on Wednesday (May 7th).

Considering the special venue and Benedict is a big Mozart fan, the concert will start with Mozart's Requiem while the well-known Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower will be presented as the grand finale piece. Shanghai Opera House Chorus will perform the concert along with the orchestra.

"It is a people-to-people exchange event through culture and art," a staff with the Foreign Ministry's press and media service told China Daily Saturday morning. "Music is a universal language that can bridge people from different countries and of different religious and cultural background. We wish the concert a big success.”

Vatican Radio, which first reported the concert, said, "Music is confirming its role as a language and most precious medium for dialogue among peoples and cultures."

"I certainly feel very excited. It is a historic visit. Although we played in Rome in 2004, this will be the orchestra's first time appearance at the Vatican,"conductor Yu told China Daily Friday.

According to Yu, the concert was initiated by Chinese side and the plans for the performance came fairly quickly.

Yu, 44, the Shanghai-born and German-trained conductor, likened the orchestra's coming visit to "pingpong diplomacy," referring to the visit of American table tennis players to China in 1971, which opened the door of Sino-US exchanges that had closed for 22 years.

The philharmonic performed Mozart's Requiem at St Joseph's Church (Dongtang Cathedral) two years ago. On April 8, the orchestra along with the Shanghai Opera House Chorus presented the same concert at St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai to an audience of more 1,000, to mark the church's 400 years of founding.

Yu said that helped pave the way for the coming performance at Vatican.

"That opened up this kind of territory," Yu said, adding that such a concert provides a common vehicle for promoting dialogue and peace.

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