Strings Magazine: Tour Diary – Shanghai Quartet Brings Beethoven to China for 35th Anniversary Season

Strings

Tour Diary: Shanghai Quartet Brings Beethoven to China for 35th Anniversary Season

June 11, 2018

April 9, 2018: Weigang (first violin), showing us the lounge life, getting ready for our 35th anniversary Beethoven Quartet Cycle in Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, and Changsha. Scotch is the quartet’s drink of choice when traveling, as you can see here with soda water.

April 11, 2018: We had a lovely dinner upon our arrival to Beijing for our 35th anniversary Beethoven Cycle tour with maestro Long Yu, David Stern, and Cheng Zen, concertmaster of the China Philharmonic. Such good friends always meet over great food and, thanks to classmate and Shanghai neighbor maestro Long Yu, good wine, too!

April 12, 2018: The 35th anniversary Beethoven Cycle began with Op. 127 at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. This was the first of 24 concerts performing the 4 cycles across China. The excitement in the hall was palpable on the stage and in the house for opening night.

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April 13, 2018: Second violinist Yi-Wen with Steven Smith, director of J & A Beare, after our second Beethoven cycle performance in Beijing. Beare’s International Violin Society graciously loaned the Shanghai Quartet four instruments for our 35th anniversary season, including two Stradivari, one Guarneri del Gesù, and a Goffriller. We are so grateful for the generosity of the violin society, and for the loans of these truly spectacular instruments.

April 13, 2018: Often our tours have CD signing sessions directly following performances. In Tianjin following the first of two concerts at the Grand Theatre—we sold quite a few CDs to even the youngest of our audience members! And what is nice is that audience members are actually buying physical CDs. It’s also super helpful that we are selling recordings of the very pieces that we played that evening. (We’ve recorded the entire Beethoven quartet cycle on the Japanese label Camerata.)

April 14, 2018: Sometimes things get out of control on empty buses when going to and from the airports and train stations. We try to keep it civil, but all too often things get out of hand and someone gets hurt either physically or emotionally. Yi-Wen had just listened to our playback from the last night’s concert and let us know how he felt about the recording. We thought he was kidding, but he was not and it was emotionally hurting. Not to worry however, we hugged it out at the airport later that afternoon.

April 15, 2018: We were invited to appear on the CCTV show Life in Music, a one-hour long show that will air in August and be seen by more than 10 million viewers. We did our best not to look too stiff, but kept it string-quartet stylish with our signature bow ties!

For the full tour diary, click here.