University of Birmingham backs Chinese orchestra’s first concert in Britain

One of China’s most prestigious orchestras performed in the UK for the first time – backed by the University of Birmingham.

Performing at Birmingham’s world-renowned Symphony Hall, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (GSO) made its British debut in the sister city to their Chinese home.

Birmingham and Guangzhou have been sister cities for over a decade and the city at the heart of England has one of the biggest Chinese communities in the country.

The performance was supported by the University of Birmingham’s China Institute and saw the orchestra bridge East and West with UK premieres of two works commissioned from contemporary Chinese composers, alongside popular works by Britten and Stravinsky.


In UK Cinemas 26 May 2017

Professor Jon Frampton, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (China) and Director of the China Institute joined the Leader of Birmingham City Council Councillor John Clancy to welcome guests to Symphony Hall.

Professor Frampton said: “Engagement and research in China is very important to the University of Birmingham and we are known in the country for our strong relationship with Guangzhou. The University works closely with the city’s municipal Government to forge deep and lasting partnerships that benefit people in China and the UK.

“We are a global ‘civic’ university and our goal is to deliver research and education which benefits people in Birmingham, Britain and China. It is particularly appropriate to welcome the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra to our city, just months after the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) played in China – including Guangzhou – for the first time.”

GSO is celebrating its 60th anniversary and 20th concert season in 2017 and was one of the first orchestras in China to introduce a Western tradition of a professional artistic season. Their UK debut tour marks the 45th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Britain.


Conducted by Long Yu and featuring Jian Wang on cello and virtuoso Asian sheng player Lei Jia, the orchestra performed Ye Xiaogang’s Guangdong Music Suite and Zhao Lin’s Duo for cello, sheng and orchestra. The GSO also perfomed Igor Stravinsky’s ‘danced symphony’, The Firebird and Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, Op 33a.

The University of Birmingham supported the CBSO’s recent New Year tour of China – marking a long musical partnership between the two institutions. The University was the academic partner for the CBSO’s tour of five concerts in four Chinese cities.

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