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December 11, 2009

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UK's finest usher in the New Year

ONE of the world's greatest orchestras, the London Philharmonic, will debut in Shanghai for a New Year concert at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, under renowned conductor Christoph Eschenbach.

Following Thomas Beecham's founding tenure, the ensemble's principal conductorship has been passed from one celebrated musician to another.

It is the only symphony orchestra in the United Kingdom to combine an annual subscription concert season with regular work in the opera house - as resident orchestra at both the Royal Festival Hall and Glyndebourne Festival Opera - and performs regularly in the nearby south coast towns of Brighton and Eastbourne.

In the 2007/08 season, the orchestra celebrated its 75th birthday.

Touring forms a significant part of the orchestra's schedule, and it regularly appears in North America, Europe and the Far East, often headlining at major festivals and concert hall openings.

As a counterpoint to its travels, the orchestra's membership has itself benefited from increased migratory freedoms, and today includes talented musicians from around the world.

To the delight of Shanghai audiences, the London Philharmonic's debut will be one of highest level ensembles in the history of New Year performances in Shanghai.

"In the New Year period every year, Shanghai's classic music stages are full of New Year concerts, but few of them are international heavyweight ensembles," says Lin Hongming, general manager of the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Lin says the main reason was that most major orchestras played in their home countries during the New Year season.

"The expense of inviting those ensembles for overseas performance is also extremely higher than usual at this time," Lin adds.

However, the situation seems to have changed this year - Shanghai in 2010 year will be especially attractive to international ensembles, due to the World Expo.

"We will perform in the New Year concert in Shanghai, because it will be an important promotion for the London Philharmonic as one of the first international ensembles to perform in Shanghai in 2010 - the year of Expo Shanghai," says David Burke, the orchestra's general manger.

Different programs have been arranged for the concerts on January 2 and 3. On the first day, audiences will enjoy Dvorak's "Carnival Overture," "Symphony No. 8" and "Symphony No. 9." The next day, Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite," Tchaikovsky's "Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture" and "Francesca da Rimini" will be presented.

The orchestra has broadcast regularly on domestic and international television and radio from both concert hall and opera house, and has worked extensively with both Hollywood and UK film companies, recording soundtracks for blockbuster motion pictures including the Oscar-winning score for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and scores for "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Mission," "East is East" and "In the Name of the Father."

There's also talk of a special performance which will enthrall Shanghai audiences.

Lin says that there was a possibility that the orchestra would play the Oscar-winning score for 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

The concert will be conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, one of the leading international conductors.

He is continuing his creative artistic partnership with the Philadelphia Orchestra for his fifth season as music director of that ensemble. Held in highest esteem by the world's foremost orchestras and opera houses for his commanding presence, versatility and consummate musicianship, Eschenbach is much sought after as a guest conductor.?

His creative insight and dynamic energy as a conductor, a collaborator and an ardent champion of young musicians has led to his being acclaimed as one of the best musicians of our day.

Eschenbach concludes the season with performances of Schubert's "Symphony in B minor ('Unfinished')," and "Symphony in C major ('Great')" in Philadelphia, and with a tour of Asia, marking the 35th anniversary of the ensemble's first visit to China.?

Date: January 2-3, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 180-1,980 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234


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