Philharmonia to play with local orchestra before Beijing Games

The relationship between Yale and China is set to become even more harmonious at next year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Yale’s Philharmonia Orchestra will travel to China in July 2008 to perform with the orchestra and chorus of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing at the finale of Beijing’s Cultural Olympiad.

Alex Weill MUS ’08 plays in the Yale Philharmonia Orchestra. The Music School’s orchestra is traveling to Beijing in July 2008 to perform in the city’s Cultural Olympiad.
Ryan Galisewski
Alex Weill MUS ’08 plays in the Yale Philharmonia Orchestra. The Music School’s orchestra is traveling to Beijing in July 2008 to perform in the city’s Cultural Olympiad.

The Cultural Olympiad — a festival to be co-hosted by the Yale School of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music before next summer’s Olympics — will feature music ensembles from around the world, said Katie Brown, assistant to School of Music Dean Robert Blocker. The arts and culture events will take place in mid-July, during the buildup to the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8.

Musicians will not be the only Yalies traveling to China next summer. The Yale School of Management will be hosting the Yale Global Business Leadership Program — in which SOM faculty will lead panel discussions for around 400 business leaders — in Beijing during the Games.

University President Richard Levin said the collaboration will provide Yale with a chance to increase its contacts in China.

“It’s a positive sign,” he said. “I think our growing number of programs in China is an acknowledgment of Yale’s prominence in that country.”

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker was out of the country and could not be reached for comment Monday.

Details of the event, which is still in its preliminary stages, will be finalized in the next few months, said Dana Astmann, a coordinator of special projects at the School of Music who is facilitating Yale’s involvement in the event. The Philharmonia has yet to determine the number of students traveling to China, sources of funding for the trip and other logistics, she said.

As part of their travels abroad, orchestra members will also perform in Shanghai and Seoul, Brown said.

“Ten internationally distinguished music programs from around the world have been invited to participate,” Brown said in an e-mail. “Each school has the opportunity to present concerts, lectures, and/or master classes.”

Astmann said Yale began considering participating in the Cultural Olympiad about two years ago, but it only recently became one of Blocker’s priorities.

Although the Philharmonia has not yet decided which pieces it will perform, Brown said all of the School of Music students in the Philharmonia have been invited to participate.

Given the large geographical distance separating the New Haven and Beijing groups, Astmann said, joint rehearsals will not take place until Yale’s musicians arrive in China in the days leading up to the event.

“They are very good quality musicians,” she said. “They can rehearse in a short amount of time.”

Shinik Hahm, director of the Yale Philharmonia, said the opportunity will be enriching for the “precious musicians” he guides.

“The students will encounter a new culture with which they will cultivate their musical imagination,” he said.

Hahm said he has high expectations for the Cultural Olympiad based on his past experience with Yale Symphony Orchestra tours, as well his trips with other professional ensembles.

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