Sydney Symphony Orchestra To Set Up East Asia “Base” In Guangzhou

China Now “The Single-Largest Growing Market For Classical Music In The World”

The SSO will work mostly at Guangzhou's Zaha Hadid-designed opera house

Following the announcement that New York’s prestigious international performing arts institution, the Juilliard School, is due to set up a China satellite in Tianjin, recently the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) signed two deals in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou that may cement the orchestra’s status and reputation in the region. Looking to take advantage of China’s already massive, and still growing, interest in classical music, over the course of the next three years the SSO will help train local Chinese musicians and work to provide its marketing prowess to Guangzhou’s new Zaha Hadid-designed opera house.

With this strategic shift towards China, the SSO is on its way to becoming one of the most influential such institutions in Asia. From the Australian:

SSO managing director Rory Jeffes told The Australian the strategy had been shaped by the orchestra’s successful tours of China in 2009 and Japan last year as well as a trip to Europe in between.

“Europe has extremely fine orchestras and always had, being the home of our art form,” Mr Jeffes said.

“If you look at Asia, there is no orchestra that has the opportunity to be iconic across the region. Coming to China, playing Western music and then going away again leaves a fond memory but not much of a legacy.”

Mr Jeffes said China was the single-largest growing market for classical music in the world.

“Thirty years ago at the end of the Cultural Revolution, all vestiges of Western culture had been wiped away,” he said. “Now there are 50 million Chinese kids learning the piano.”

The SSO’s decision to set up its China home base in Guangzhou is a very smart move. Unlike Beijing and Shanghai — two cities regularly visited by the world’s leading orchestras and bursting at the seams with performances by local and domestic musicians — Guangzhou, with its expensive new opera house and desire to appear more “cultural” — is highly motivated to do everything possible to raise its status. This presents the SSO a major opportunity for better exposure in China, in an art world that remains highly receptive and with an ever-increasing interest in classical music.

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