US musicians' performance at hospital warms hearts

By Du Juan (China Daily) 11:14, November 10, 2023

Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra perform for patients and staff of Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing on Thursday. The orchestra is making its 13th trip to China, and will perform in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Suzhou. [Wang Zhuangfei / China Daily]

A group of veteran musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra from the United States have come to Beijing — the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic, and several of them staged amazing performances at Peking Union Medical College Hospital this week.

Philip Kates, a violinist from the orchestra, together with his colleagues, visited the hospital on Wednesday and Thursday to give charity performances, during a trip to China to mark the 50th anniversary of the orchestra's debut performance in the country.

The orchestra, which is making its 13th trip to China, first visited the country in September 1973, marking a thaw in China-US relations after US president Richard Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972.

Kates visited the hospital five times between 2012 and 2019, and performed for patients, especially children in the pediatric wards.

He also visited Sichuan province and performed for people who experienced the earthquake in May 2008.

"I wish that the music can bring hope to people, especially for those with illnesses. I believe music helps," he said.

On Thursday afternoon, a large number of people, including patients and doctors, gathered in the hall of the hospital's outpatient building, to listen to a performance by the veteran musicians.

A patient surnamed Wang said it was the first time that she had listened to such beautiful classical music in a hospital.

"I was not expecting to hear such a performance during a hospital visit, it was a pleasant surprise," Wang said.

"I experienced the charm of music, and my tension eased," she added.

According to its itinerary, the ensemble will perform with the China National Symphony Orchestra at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday.

Kates's last visit to China was in 2019, and his planned visit in 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.

"This time, we have only 12 musicians and will play small concerts in different places including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Suzhou," he said. "I'm very happy to be here again and I believe these small things will make the world a better place."

"We will come to China next year," he added.

Among the 12 musicians, 73-year-old Davyd Booth is a violinist who was on the orchestra's first tour to the country half a century ago.

"I think music is a great communicating force and everybody reacts to it positively. It touches everybody's heart. Everybody's hearts are the same," said Booth. "And it's one of the most important things in diplomacy and the love between the two nations."

He said this constant 50-year connection with China has been very deep and wonderful.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Zhong Wenxing)


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