Today started without a wake-up call for some of us, but everyone managed to wake up and we arrived at the Summer Palace on time. The Summer Palace is the resort that Cixi, the Mother of the last Chinese emperor, enjoyed. It is known for its long, lake-side corridor, painted with flowers, animals, landscapes, characters and scenes from famous stories. We walked through the corridor and took a dragon boat ride on the lake.
In the afternoon, we visited the Olympic Park where the Bird Nest and the Cube stand facing each other. The 2008 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies were held in the Bird Nest and the swimming and diving competitions happened in the Cube. It seemed to be only yesterday but 7 years has gone by.
At 4:00PM, rehearsal started in the Beijing Zhong Shang Music Hall in the Zhong Shang Park, which is actually part of the Forbidden City. Although it is not as new as the National Centre of the Performing Art and Beijing Concert Hall (that we passed by), it is a nice music hall. At dinner time, our tour guide Glen, sang for us "Jasmine", a Chinese folk song, drawing big applauses and cheers from the GDYO musicians (many took video, so you may get a chance to experience that as well).
The concert was a success. Although the kids have different personalities–some quiet and some expressive or even mischievous–once on stage, they are always professional and play the music with such heart, even when they are tired. It is such a joy to watch them play. The Chinese audiences are genuinely interested in classical music even more than what we expect back in the States. In various places and cities, I have people asking me about the concerts and where to buy the tickets. The applause from the audiences always brought big smiles to the GDYO musicians.
After the concert, a young man from the audience approached us and it turned out he is a GDYO alum (2012). The young man is doing a summer internship in the American Embassy in Beijing and came to watch the GDYO concert. What a pleasant surprise!
GDYO is not the only Youth Orchestra playing in the Zhong Shang Music Hall, before GDYO, it was Cleveland Youth Orchestra and after GDYO, it will be the San Diego Youth Orchestra. The Cleveland Youth Orchestra played Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikovsky, and the San Diego Youth Orchestra will play Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin.
We are close to the end of the tour. Let's hear what the students have to say about the tour.
Mashall Cahill, “I enjoyed experiencing a culture other than my own both linguistically as well as traditionally.”
Andrew Huang, “I’ve enjoyed getting to know new people in the GDYO, getting to observe the difference in cultures between China and the US, and getting to interact with the locals.”
Franklin Jia, “I’ve really enjoyed sites such as the Forbidden City and the Olympic venues. Although I had already visited these places, seeing these wonders with my friends has been a blast. In addition, performing in China for my friends and relatives brings about a special feeling this time around. I’m glad I get this opportunity to travel with the GDYO.”
Ridge Garner, ”I’ve enjoyed exploring an ancient yet modern country and culture. It is very different, yet the same in many ways.”
Paul Park, “I’ve enjoyed looking at the different cities in China and the difference between China and America.”
Mason Soria, “I’ve enjoyed making new friends in the GDYO and speaking with Chinese people.”– Tianling Lu, GDYO Chaperone