Berlin Philharmonic returns to Shanghai with sellout shows

Updated 2017-11-06 13:02:57 China Daily
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Sir Simon Rattle is leading the Berlin Philharmonic on its tour of China.

Sir Simon Rattle is leading the Berlin Philharmonic on its tour of China.

All the tickets for the two upcoming Berlin Philharmonic concerts in Shanghai sold out within 26 hours on Sept. 17 and 18, a record for a live performance.

The German orchestra is performing at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on Nov 16 and 17 as the final leg of its China tour.

This will be the second time the world-renowned symphony orchestra has played at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

The first time was in 2005, when the theater had just been launched. The concert caused such a sensation that it made it onto the city's top 10 cultural news stories of the year, says Lei Wen, president of the theater.

"The ticket price has been significantly lowered this time relative to the price 12 years ago," Lei says.

It is still extremely expensive to introduce a top-notch symphony with 100 plus pieces, she says. But thanks to commercial sponsors such as Borgward, a German carmaker, "We have lowered the highest ticket price from 4,000(4) to 3,480 yuan, and the lowest ticket price from 300 to 80 yuan," Lei says.

In general, the average ticket price is 30 percent less than the last time the orchestra performed at the venue.

Avid music lovers waited outside the theater for the box office to open on Sept 17. Some even stayed at a hotel nearby.

"I was lucky," says Shi Yingying, a 32-year-old office worker who bought a ticket for 1,288 yuan, after waiting for three hours. "By the time I arrived, some had left because the first night tickets were all sold out."

"I fell in love with classical music listening to recordings of the Berlin Philharmonic. Now they are here in my city, and I don't want to miss it."

Luo Xueqin, vice-general manager of Shanghai Oriental Art Center, says: "People's enthusiasm was far beyond our expectation. We will be better prepared in the future, and improve our online booking system."

She says that the theater used an ID-ticket purchasing system to avoid scalpers.

Since its establishment in 1882, the Berlin Philharmonic has become a cultural icon of Germany, says Christine D. Althauser, consul general of Germany in Shanghai.

After the turmoil of World War II, the orchestra went through a period of rapid development under the leadership of Herbert von Karajan, who worked with the symphony from 1955-1989.

Tang Muhai, one of the most acclaimed Chinese conductors of today, was once invited by Karajan to be the guest conductor for the Berlin Philharmonic.

Tang says he has been impressed by the strong spiritual power the orchestra has displayed through the past few decades, and from which it has developed a distinctive sound.

He says the orchestra is now a young and lively group, playing lots of modern and contemporary music, while holding firmly onto its German and Austrian traditions.

Sir Simon Rattle has been the music director since 2002, but this is his last music season leading the orchestra. Kirill Petrenko will take over the baton in 2019.

Chinese pianist Wang Yuja will perform on the first night in Shanghai, playing Piano Concerto No 2 by Bela Viktor Janos Bartok, a particularly difficult piece.

While the first night features mainly German and Austrian music, the second night in Shanghai will be a "Russian carnival", featuring works by Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, says Luo.

The orchestra's China tour starts on Nov 10, with two concerts in Hong Kong. It will then play in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Nov 12, and Wuhan, Hubei province, on Nov 13.

After Shanghai, it will perform in Seoul, South Korea, and Kawasaki and Tokyo in Japan, before heading back home to Berlin.

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