China Philharmonic, Lacking Funding, Cancels Concerts

Classic Arts News   China Philharmonic, Lacking Funding, Cancels Concerts
The web site Musical America, citing various articles from the Chinese press, reports that the five-year-old China Philharmonic is suffering from severe financial difficulties.

The much-praised Philharmonic, which recently made its New York debut, has canceled three concerts, including a gala concert celebrating the orchestra's fifth anniversary, due to financial instability. Many other costs have been cut, including shuttle buses to rehearsals for musicians.

The orchestra's budget was reduced to about 16 million yuan (just under $2 million) in 2002 when a 10 million yuan subsidy was withdrawn by Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing.

According to one of the articles cited by Musical America, the Chinese government evidently does not contribute to its orchestras' budgets. Pianist Lang Lang, who has toured with the China Philharmonic is quoted as saying, "[I]t just has no money. This is absolutely impossible [for any orchestra] in the world. If it is to become a part of the world, please provide arts with more respect and concrete support."

In the Beijing News, the orchestra's principal clarinetist said, "Musicians and conductors of the China Philharmonic have a very high standard. An orchestra cannot be without support from the government. We need the government to help improve our economic situation."

In addition, there has been no news about the renewal of the musicians' contracts, or about next season's program.

According to Musical America, the older China National Symphony Orchestra is facing problems of its own. Its musicians have played without a contract for nearly a year, and the ensemble has not had a music director since 2001.

Most of the articles about the state of classical music in China agreed that the government should step in with funding, but it is unclear whether such a thing will happen. Wu Zuqiang, a composer and honorary director of the Central Conservatory of Music, said, "I cannot see how these articles would get the government to come to terms with the requests for more resources."

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