The Cleveland Orchestra Embarks on Tour to Asia in Spring 2019

The Cleveland Orchestra Embarks on Tour to Asia in Spring 2019

In March and April 2019, The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst embark on their nineteenth tour together, with eleven performances scheduled across Asia in seven cities: Taipei, Macao, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, and Beijing. The tour's repertoire features four big musical works, two from the 19th century and two from the 20th, with Beethoven's "Emperor" Piano Concerto (No. 5) with soloist Daniil Trifonov and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, alongside Richard Strauss's epic tone poem Ein Heldenleben and Prokofiev's enigmatic Symphony No. 3. Details of concert pairings, venues, and dates in China and Taiwan are listed in the Program Information section at the end of this release.

The 2019 Asia Tour is part of The Cleveland Orchestra's 101st season and the 17th year of the ensemble's acclaimed partnership with Franz Welser-Möst. This is the 19th international tour that Cleveland and Welser-Möst have presented together; it is their third trip together to Asia and features their first joint appearances in China. The tour includes the first Cleveland Orchestra performances in Macao, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Nanjing, along with return visits to Beijing and Shanghai (which the Orchestra first visited in 1998) and to Taipei (where the Orchestra played in 1987).

"The Cleveland Orchestra has toured internationally almost every season for the past half century," says André Gremillet, The Cleveland Orchestra's executive director, "and we are very proud to represent Cleveland and Ohio around the world. Touring is also an essential part of our season both from an artistic and an audience development perspective."

"Audiences in Cleveland, across the United States, Europe and more recently Japan know how unique the partnership between Music Director Franz Welser-Möst and the Orchestra is," continued Gremillet. "And we are very fortunate to be able to share our music-making with people from all around the world. It's been over two decades since The Cleveland Orchestra last appeared in China - and we are thrilled to return to a country that is now one of the most important music market in the world and to perform for audiences that are so enthusiastic and appreciative of classical music.

In recent seasons, including the Orchestra's Centennial Season in 2017-18, praise for The Cleveland Orchestra under the artistic leadership of Welser-Möst has continued to grow. The New York Times has called the ensemble "... America's most brilliant orchestra," with The Wall Street Journal stating that the Orchestra is "... magnificent." Two tours during its 100th season, to Europe in October 2017 and to Europe and Japan in May-June 2018, demonstrated the Cleveland/Welser-Möst partnership to sold-out houses.

"Whenever we go to a part of the world, to a place we haven't been for a long time, or in this case to some cities where The Cleveland Orchestra has never been before, I believe it is important to present a range of repertoire that showcases the Orchestra's abilities and lets the artistry of this ensemble really shine. So we include works, such as Strauss's Ein Heldenleben, which are well-known, and others, like Prokofiev's Symphony No. 3 that fewer people may know," said Music Director, Franz Welser-Möst. "We are also so very happy to bring with us a star pianist, Daniil Trifonov, who The Cleveland Orchestra has performed with and championed since early on in his career. We've been collaborating with him for half a dozen years and are proud that he really is, at least in part, a product of Cleveland."

"I can't claim this idea, but live music is one of the only art forms that can truly travel the world," said Cleveland Orchestra Board President Richard K. Smucker. "In our case, the Orchestra spreads the reputation of Cleveland itself - not only domestically but internationally. The Orchestra proudly carries the name of Cleveland with it, which is a phenomenal way to share this cultural gem which reflects the spirit and essence of our city. The Cleveland Orchestra is not just a great orchestra, but we believe it also represents a great city. The excellence of this Orchestra mirrors the pride, innovation and quality of the citizens of Cleveland and our region. This Orchestra was created to serve its hometown, with music education and great symphonic entertainment. We're always proud to share the extraordinary results with the world."

"I fundamentally believe that it is important for The Cleveland Orchestra to share our artistry with audiences throughout the world, continued Franz Welser-Möst. "Sharing our work is important, so that more people can know and experience what we are creating in Cleveland. Only through live performances can people truly understand firsthand that we set a high bar - and that our standards are pretty much unmatched worldwide. The Cleveland Orchestra is too often a hidden secret. Performing in Asia in 2019 is important to renew our acquaintance with the many enthusiastic and new fans of classical music, and also perhaps in new concert halls that are attracting the passion and interest of these growing audiences."

Founded in 1918, The Cleveland Orchestra's first tour took place the next year, when the ensemble's musicians traveled by train to perform in nearby cities, including in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio. They crossed an international border for the first time in 1922, to perform in Canada, and also made their first appearance at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall in 1922. The Orchestra first crossed ocean waters in 1927 to perform in Cuba. Major overseas and international touring began in 1957, with the ensemble's first trip to Europe, featuring 29 concerts across more than five weeks that spring. As the Orchestra's fame spread - fanned by recordings and radio broadcasts - new and lengthy concert tours of Europe followed in the 1960s, as well as the first trip to Asia in 1970, featuring 12 concerts in Japan and Korea.

Touring expanded in the following decades, with Cleveland's first tour to Australia and New Zealand (1973), and South America and Mexico (1975), along with increasingly frequent visits to Europe's musical capitals and festivals, as well as regular concert tours across the United States and into Canada.

The 2019 Asia Tour marks Franz Welser-Möst's 19th international tour with The Cleveland Orchestra during his first seventeen seasons as music director. It marks the Orchestra's eleventh visit to Asia and second tour to China. The Cleveland Orchestra visited Hong Kong three times, in 1978 and 1982 with Lorin Maazel, and in 1990 with Christoph von Dohnányi.

"Music is the most universal language," adds André Gremillet. "While we come from different cultures and live in different environments, experiencing great music together reminds us that what we all have in common is greater than what might separate us. We believe one of our most important roles is indeed to bring people together, and we are truly honored to be invited to perform for music lovers in China and in Taiwan. We all look forward to developing new friendships but also to experience the wonderful Chinese culture and hospitality.

Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni

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