SSO and Robertson continue their Chinese odyssey with a concert in Beijing’s iconic NCPA.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has continued its tour to China with a gala concert in Beijing attended by an array of senior government officials in China as well as Australian Embassy staff.

Chief Conductor David Robertson told attendees at the National Centre for the Performing Arts that international touring was an essential part of the DNA of the SSO: “It’s not only a way for us to grow as an ensemble and forge new ties between ourselves – it’s a way to establish bonds of friendship with those who are not able to come to our home every week and hear us play.”

Robertson conducted the SSO in Beethoven’s Emperor concerto with Chinese soloist Haochen Zhang, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and a work we commissioned especially for the tour, Sound Lur and Serpent by Australian composer Andrew Schultz.

Chargé d’Affaires Justin Hayhurst was among those who attended the concert and said that the SSO “a model of how to succeed in China,” and praising them for making “a significant contribution to the rich cultural relationship between Australia and China”.

The SSO has built a strong partnership with Guangzhou’s Xinghai Conservatory as well as with Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts. “This type of deep, sustained, purposeful artistic collaboration is essential to a strong and vibrant Australia-China relationship. The strength of this relationship and this partnership will again be seen during President Xi’s visit to Australia in November,” Mr Hayhurst said.

SSO Managing Director Rory Jeffes said it had been worth taking time over the last five years to build real friendships and not just to “legislate friendships”. “China is such a huge market now; a full house for an Australian orchestra five years ago would have been unthinkable. The SSO now packs out one of the greatest arts centres in China,” he added.

Performing in Beijing is seen as a highlight of the SSO’s China tour, which continues until July 6 and involves getting 102 musicians and $4.5 million in instruments through seven concerts in 12 days.