A close call in Shanghai

The lobby of the Shanghai Grand Theater

The lobby of the Shanghai Grand Theater

The Philharmonia  left Beijing for Shanghai early in the morning of July 25. The schedule called for an early afternoon arrival, lunch, and then a touch-up rehearsal in the Grand National Theater at 4:30 before the 7:15 concert. But the plane left very late, and by 4:30 the orchestra was still on the buses from the airport to the hotel.

Change of plan: a quick shower at the hotel, sandwiches on the bus (how did our orchestra manager, Krista Johnson, get 100 sandwiches on such short notice?), backstage warm-up, and then the downbeat of the concert without playing a note together on stage.

This could have been the makings of a disaster, but the orchestra responded to the challenge with extraordinary professionalism. They played beautifully, making this one of the orchestra’s most spirited and musically satisfying concerts of the season.

Fortunately, the musical selections were the same as the Forbidden City Concert Hall program: Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Saint-Saens Cello Concerto with Jian Wang, Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, and the encore of a Chinese folk song arrangement by Derrick Wang.

And like the concert at the Forbidden City, the large audience responded enthusiastically to both orchestra and soloist, with Jian Wang playing two encores.

With no time to rehearase, orchestra members made the most of the time they had back stage to warm up

With no time to rehearse, orchestra members made the most of the time they had back stage to warm up

The orchestra takes a bow at the Shanghai Grand Theater. Although the performance space doubles as a theater, the fine orchestra shell makes the hall a great venue for orchestral music

The orchestra takes a bow at the Shanghai Grand Theater. Although the performance space is primarily a theater, the fine orchestra shell makes the hall a great venue for orchestral music.

After the Saint-Saens Concerto, Shinik Hahm and Jian Wang accept warm applause.

After the Saint-Saens Concerto, Shinik Hahm and Jian Wang accept warm applause.

The beautiful seating of the Shanghai Grand Theater

The beautiful seating of the Shanghai Grand Theater

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