On December 26th, 2015 about 65 musicians of the Neue Philharmonie München met with pleasant anticipation at Munich airport. Due to the invitation of the Chinese Fuge Kultur und Kunst GmbH in Zhuhai, they started the long flight to Hong Kong via Peking. After the tour in 2014, this was already the second concert trip of the orchestra to China. After having cleared immigration, the journey continued with two busses to the romantic city of Zhuhai, which is about the size of Munich. Large, illuminated red letters welcomed the tired, but happy group at the hotel. During the typical Chinese breakfast served in the morning it was quite difficult for some to balance the food from the bowls to their plates with chopsticks. So there was not only buoyant laughing at the tables, but interesting discussions started about the different traditions in other countries. Because of the large number of different nationalities in the orchestra, like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Hungary and Venezuela, it came to a wonderful mixture of languages, however, everybody spoke English. It was remarkable, how the young musicians, independent of their origin, grew together, not only musically, but also privately and socially. The visit of an international kindergarten was first disposed with a smile. But what you could see then exceeded all expectation. An own indoor swimming pool, a pottery in a children castle, sport fields, a climbing wall, technical theme areas were just a few highlights of this gigantic compound. After some sports and musical performances of the children, a violin, a trombone and a horn, suitable also for children, were introduced from members of the orchestra, in exchange for the cultural transfer. This resulted in applause for the musicians from the happy kids.
In the afternoon the group went to the city Zhongshan by bus where the New Year`s eve concert should take place. After dinner, some started to explore the town. Quite unexpected was a bar with a young Chinese band playing excellent rock music from the seventies and eighties. Next day, there was a rehearsal and the New Year´s Eve concert at the gigantic cultural center of the 1.4 million city. The beautiful concert hall, seating more than 1300, was nearly sold out. The concert was started with the overture to the magical flute of W. A. Mozart, followed by the piano concert of Edward Grieg, performed by the Chinese pianist Jieni Wan. After the intermission, known compositions of Johann Strauss, son, like the waltz of spring voices, roses from the south, artists life waltz, pizzicato polka and the emperor waltz, followed. Even though the orchestra and the soloist played excellent, the applause of the Chinese was polite friendly before the break, but after some zippy compositions, the Chinese gave sustained applause and appreciative whistles and rewarded the extras with standing ovations.
After the concert, a wonderful Chinese buffet was served. An impressive live show with video transmission in front of the cultural centre got everybody in the mood for the turn of the year at midnight. The natives watched the Europeans with curios friendly looks, asking for joint pictures. After the countdown, compliments and big hugs for the New Year were exchanged between everybody, regardless nationalities and languages. During the return to Zhuhai on New Year’s Day, the visit of a museum was scheduled. Because of the holiday, it was well attended. Also here, the Europeans were a demanded object for pictures. While waiting for the bus in front of the museum, various goodies were offered. Freshly squeezed pineapple- or sugar cane juice, fresh coconut milk or puffed rice was available at little sales booths, a delicious refreshing at 25 degrees.
The second concert during this concert trip was on January 2nd in Zhuhai. Here, also an extremely attractive and very big concert hall. A colossal poster in front of the building advertised this event. In addition to the Mozart overture, the piano concert by Grieg and some compositions of Strauss, the concert for clarinet by Mozart was added. Soloist was the young, high talented Fidelis Edelmann. The exalted audience gave extended applause and again standing ovations. On the 3rd of January it was time to say good bye to Zhuhai. The town impressed with a modern part, but especially with its old market narrow streets. Everything from fish, meat, chicken claws, fruits, vegetables, bags, shoes, teas and jewels was offered. At the numerous typical cook shops with seldom, but tasty smells, you could not always tell which ingredients were in the cooking pot. Many of the orchestra members used the about 3 hours ride to Shenzen, a 10 million town at the Pearl River Delta, north of Hong Kong, for a recreational nap. Already at the rehearsal, the Shenzen concert hall impressed with a great acoustic and an extraordinary architecture and size. The stage was opulently decorated with lilies, roses, gerberas and orchids. Some days before, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra gave a concert at the same place. The more solid program at the beginning at the concert was obviously not too well known by the Chinese. Therefore they were very much inspired by Plink Plank Plunk and the Radetzky March. Humorously guided by the conductor Fuad Ibrahimov, the audience gave excited applause to the zippy pieces. Above all, the first class work of Fuad Ibrahimov with the orchestra must be mentioned.
Also in Shenzen, the sightseeing did not come short. The Chinese Culture Village Park represented excellent the old China. The visit of the Meridian View Centre, a skyscraper with the panorama view of the 69 floor, was simply breathtaking. Early in the morning on 5th of January it was time to pack the suitcases. A free afternoon in Hong Kong was planed and everybody used the remained time to get an unforgettable impression of this cosmopolitan city.
The return flight to Beijing and Munich started in the evening. “Dsái djian”, good bye China. After more than 12 000 air miles, everybody arrived happy and full of new impressions in Munich. The journey was for some musicians not finished. They had to travel to their home countries or other cities.