The 2018 Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows are off to Nanjing this month, the first time the Fellows have embarked on an international tour. Invited by the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Television, Press and Publication, they will perform two concerts as part of the annual 2018 Nanjing Art Festival.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 2018 Fellows. Photo © Keith Saunders

“Nanjing is one of the most cultural and historical cities in China, having great emphasis on the performing arts,” said City of Sydney Councillor Robert Kok, who helped facilitate the trip.

“It is the first time the City of Sydney will work with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on a culture mission and it surely is the highlight of our long-lasting collaboration with China. It is only fitting that Australia’s premier orchestra represent the City of Sydney in a premier event.

“I am excited to bring opportunities with China and Asia to our Sydney local musicians, especially for our young talented SSO Fellow members who will benefit greatly from international performing opportunities. The SSO Fellows are great cultural ambassadors for the two cities’ relationship as well as the Australia-China relations. This, I hope, will be one of many performances as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s fame grows in China!”

Led by Roger Benedict, Artistic Director of the SSO Fellowship, the Fellows will perform works from both cultures at the Nanjing Great Hall of the People. One of these works is Miriama Young’s Time and Tide: Echoes of Sydney Harbour, commissioned for the SSO Fellows through the assistance of Dr Janet Merewether in memory of her late mother, Tempe Merewether, a long-time supporter of the Fellowship. The Fellows will also perform an orchestral arrangement of the popular Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower alongside 10-year-old erhu player, Yujia Cai.

As part of its Nanjing tour, the Fellows will also work with young musicians as part of outreach workshops at the University of Nanjing, the Taicheng Study Room and the Nanjing Little Red Flower Art Troupe.

The tour is the latest in a series of trips which have consolidated Australia’s continuing cultural relationship with China. Last September, the SSO celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and China when it undertook its fifth tour to mainland China in September 2017 under Chief Conductor and Artistic Director David Robertson.

There are 13 young artists in the Fellowship program this year. In their time as Fellows, they have been mentored by orchestra members, have rehearsed and performed concerts with the SSO and participated in masterclasses with guest artists.

They tour Nanjing from October 13 – 19.