Ormandy in China: The Historic 1973 Tour
Ormandy in China
Performances by the Chinese

While in China, the orchestra members played a role they had anticipated would be central to their invitation: as spectators for a showcase of China's best musicians. Most of the performances-in schools, concert halls, and outdoor theaters-were of Chinese traditional music, and it was clear that the Chinese government considered this to be the music of its people.

Program for the afternoon concert presented by the Central Philharmonic Society
Hall of National Minorities, Beijing, 13 September 1973
The first activity for the orchestra after arriving in Beijing was a concert presented by the Central Philharmonic Society, which opened with a chorus singing America the Beautiful" and two contemporary Chinese patriotic songs. Much of the balance of the program featured soloists performing on Chinese instruments (sheng, erhu, cheng, pan-hu, and pipa). The compositions were primarily modern Chinese and bore programmatic titles (for example, Delivering Public Grain Joyfully" and The Red Army Has Come Back"). Near the end of the first half was a brief performance by pianist Liu Shih-kun, winner of second prize in the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition (the year that American Van Cliburn had won first place). The finale was a setting of five poems by Chairman Mao, scored for solo singers, chorus, and orchestra.
Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra listen to a classroom performance
Children's Palace, Shanghai, 19 September 1973
After checking into their hotel in Shanghai, orchestra members were bused to the Children's Palace, a large, sprawling center for cultural, scientific, and physical extracurricular activities. It was one of more than twenty similar institutions in Shanghai. Orchestra members visited classroom sessions in needlepoint, gymnastics, ballet, metalwork, science, and instrumental and choral music.
Pipa ensemble performing "America the Beautiful"
Children's Palace, Shanghai, 19 September 1973
The visit to the Children's Palace concluded with a performance in the school's theater that featured a rendition of America the Beautiful" performed by nine pipa players. The audience also heard piano solos, a violin ensemble, and an accordion ensemble. According to Louis Hood, the orchestra's director of public relations, the finale of the performance was a propaganda ballet illustrating that children should love and help one another. It was based in a snowy setting and seemed a salute to the absolute bliss of shoveling snow and then building a snowman for smaller kids to enjoy."
The White Haired Girl

While in Shanghai, the orchestra attended a performance of the ballet The White-Haired Girl, one of the eight model plays" that Jiang Qing developed and promoted during the Cultural Revolution. The ballet, which premiered in 1965, was adapted from a 1945 opera of the same name. It tells the story of a young girl named Xi'er who becomes the concubine of a landlord who has murdered her father because of a debt owed him. Xi'er is separated from her love, Wang Dachun, and works day and night at the landlord's home. She makes a successful escape with the help of the housemaid and hides in the forest. In the meantime, Wang has joined the Liberation Army, and he finds Xi'er several years later. Her hair has turned white because of the deprived life she has been living. Reunited with her love, Xi'er returns to the village to marry Wang and join the army, while the treacherous landlord is punished for the murder of her father.

Program for "The White-Haired Girl"
Shanghai, 21 September 1973
Introduction The Trip Repertory for the Tour Central Harmonic Society Third Concert in Beijing Orchestra as Tourists Performances by the Chinese After the Tour Sond Recordings