Philadelphia Orchestra Campus Event held as part of the celebration of 50-year musical friendship

ON2023-11-23TAG: ShanghaiTech UniversityCATEGORY: Global


The Philadelphia Orchestra Campus Event was held at ShanghaiTech University on November 17, as part of the commemorative activities marking the 50th anniversary of the orchestra’s first visit to China, as well as the implementation of the cooperation agreement between both institutions. The Campus Event included three parts: a dialogue themed “Music and Creativity”, a master class and a chamber concert. This event was not only a commemoration of the cultural exchange spanning over half a century between China and the United States, but also the best witness to the close relationship enjoyed by ShanghaiTech and the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years.



“Music and Creativity”— a dialogue lecture between musicians and students


In the dialogue lecture, Ryan Fleur, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and conductor Tristan Rais-Sherman shared some captivating stories with the faculty and students, about how music is created and about how an orchestra is managed. When Rais-Sherman talked about how he practiced computer programming during the pandemic when there were no public performances, it triggered a tricky question from a student about whether or not he regretted choosing the computer major when he was young. “Not exactly”, Rais-Sherman answered with a smile. “I was trained to think in a scientific way which helps me to improve my music performance, and the two can be integrated with each other.”


Tristan Rais-Sherman (left) and Ryan Fleur (right) in the dialogue lecture


“Each time we visit ShanghaiTech, the orchestra members learn a lot from the students. These young students are full of energy, and through face-to-face communication and the exchange of ideas, they bring new perspectives and new ideas to the orchestra, and we benefit a lot.” After the lecture, Ryan Fleur spoke highly about the students when asked how he felt about the visit.



The master class to open one’s mind by art


A very exclusive part of the Campus Event, the master class by the Philadelphia Orchestra, was kicked off at the main hall of the Conference Center in the afternoon. The 27 members of the ShanghaiTech Orchestra, along with a dozen students from ShanghaiTech’s affiliated school, were fortunate to receive special instruction from four orchestra members. Although most of the students participating in the master class had no relevant music training background, this did not hinder them from yearning to become young “music lovers” in the new era.

Li Xiaofeng, a student who had also participated in the Philadelphia Orchestra Campus Event in 2019, said that ever since she began to play the violin in elementary school, she had never imagined that one day she would be instructed by players from one of the world’s top orchestras. “A series of music activities and art courses organized by ShanghaiTech introduced high culture directly to the campus, and this can broaden our horizons, inspire our innovation, and integrate music and art into our life. I believe that through these exchange activities, I and other students will continue our passion and love for music.”


Students got instruction by different “instructors” in four divided groups


The “instructors” from the Philadelphia Orchestra also gave positive feedback. “The students are not professional performers, but what is valuable is their passion for the music, and they were able to quickly and thoroughly comprehend the music. We were deeply impressed and very moved.”



Chamber concert as a bridge for cultural exchange across the Pacific


As the evening unfolded and the Campus Event came to a climax, the “Grand Finale” chamber concert was about to begin. Vice President of ShanghaiTech Zhu Zhiyuan and Ryan Fleur delivered addresses respectively before the musical performance began. Zhu Zhiyuan welcomed the Philadelphia Orchestra on their second visit to ShanghaiTech and emphasized that the visit held an extraordinary meaning because it marks the 50th anniversary of the orchestra’s first tour to China. He remarked: “Music is the common language of communication, and university is the bridge for exchange. Adhering to the mission of providing international education, ShanghaiTech not only cultivates students’ ability in scientific and technological innovation, but also provides resources to edify students’ aesthetic quality, and strengthen their skills in cross-cultural cooperation”.


Zhu Zhiyuan made the welcome speech


Ryan Fleur, in his address, also mentioned the significant meaning of this reunion after a three-year suspension due to the pandemic. “Music has the power to transcend national boundaries, and culture can build a bridge between hearts and minds.” Since 1973, when the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first American orchestra to tour China, it has been committed to achieving cultural exchange through music. Fleur further pointed out that “In 2019, the Philadelphia Orchestra and ShanghaiTech established a strategic partnership for the first time, with the aim of providing world-class musical performances to the campus and engaging students in musical events that inspire innovation and creativity. These events, together with tonight’s performance, are the perfect proof that both countries can find common ground through music.”


Ryan Fleur delivered his address


In the chamber music concert, musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra brought classics from Western masters such as Mozart, Donay, Dvorak, Brahms and Taylor, as well as selections from the Chinese classics “Butterfly Lovers” by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao and “Galloping Horse” by Chen Yaoxing. More than 800 audience members held their breath and listened enraptured, completely immersed in this wonderful musical feast of Chinese and Western fusion.


At the end of the performance, the musicians delivered the encore, concluding with a selection from the famous “Jasmine Flower” to thank the audience.