ROCK HILL, S.C. - The Winthrop/Carolinas Wind Orchestra will perform during a New Year’s Eve celebration in China on Dec. 31, marking the first time a non-Chinese symphony orchestra will play during the country’s most important new year celebration.
The live concert will be broadcast from the Chengdu Performing Arts Center by Chinese television to an anticipated 2.4 billion viewers. The New Year’s celebration will be followed by a pioneering concert in Beijing’s fabled Forbidden City, which will be the first time a foreign ensemble will play in one of China’s most sacred and historic sites.
The orchestra’s performances are part of a13-day tour of three Chinese provinces at the invitation of the United States-China Cultural and Educational Foundation. The group will depart Dec. 26 and return Jan. 7 in an effort to construct bridges of understanding between the U.S. and China.
Dr. Song Yang, vice chair of the foundation, said the Winthrop/Carolina Wind Orchestra was chosen because of its stellar reputation. “Both band conductors have achieved national and international reputations for the quality of their work, and would provide strong models for aspiring band conductors in China,” he said.
The 112-member Winthrop/Carolinas Wind Orchestra is led by conductors William Malambri and Stanley Michalski. The concert band is made up of Winthrop music majors, middle and secondary school band directors from the Charlotte, N.C., area, and professional and highly skilled amateur players. The group performed at the 2005 annual convention of the American Bandmasters Association in Gainesville, Fla. before some of the world’s most discriminating audience of wind conductors. It also has traveled to Spain for two concerts in 2007, as well as giving performances across the Carolinas.
Malambri, a Winthrop music professor and director of bands, said the concerts by the orchestra in three distinctly different provinces in China – Beijing, Chengdu, and Kunming - will be beneficial for all. “The interactions between ensemble members with both Chinese musicians and members of the audiences will promote greater artistic and cultural awareness and cognition,” he said.
The group will also hold a concert in Beijing at Renmin University and will interact with the Chinese Army Band.
The United States- China Cultural and Education Foundation will provide significant financial resources to assist the ensemble with the cost of the tour. However, because no university money is being provided, the band is seeking donations from business and private donors.
Those interested in helping should contact Winthrop’s Department of Music at 803/323-2255.