Orchestral Manoeuvres in China!
By Dave Harries
I was lucky enough to be invited on a 2 week orchestral tour of China over Christmas and New Year, a pretty rare opportunity for any musician let alone an amateur horn player like myself.
They had been invited to tour China to give a series of concerts at various cities around the Peoples Republic, and as luck would have it they were short of a horn player so I managed to sneak in.
As a radio producer this was too good an opportunity to miss, so I packed my tape recorder alongside my suitcase and horn and persuaded my bosses here at BBC Radio Gloucestershire to let me make a series of features about the trip.
I had no idea what to expect often just switching on my tape recorder more in hope than expectation.
However, as luck would have it quite a number of my fellow touring musicians were also from Gloucestershire including the Conductor and founder of the orchestra Philip Mackenzie.
This gave me the perfect excuse to interview them about their perceptions of China and the tour.
As well as these ready made interviewees, the trip was also packed with incidents - in fact it was a radio producers dream.
The cultural mis-understandings and mutually incompatible expectations between the orchestra and our Chinese tour organisers made for a fascinating clash of cultures and a lot of disasters.
These ranged in severity from being stopped at Chinese customs on suspicion of musical instrument smuggling to playing concerts wearing overcoats, hats and gloves in huge un-heated sports arenas.
Our 16 days in China were never predictable, culturally or musically, but they were a wonderful experience that left me with a real affection for the country and its people.
To listen to Dave's five part series, click on the links on the top right of this page.
last updated: 08/04/2008 at 13:23