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NAC Orchestra makes first tour of China

More than 70 National Arts Centre Orchestra musicians are acting as Canadian musical ambassadors this month, during the group's first tour of China. They've given classical concerts as well as pop-up shows in unlikely spots, including the Beijing Zoo, all in the name of fostering cultural exchange.
The Ottawa-based troupe is fostering cultural exchange on its first-ever tour of China 2:30

Dozens of National Arts Centre Orchestra musicians are acting as Canadian musical ambassadors this month, during the group's first tour of China.

Since Oct. 4, the Ottawa-based orchestra has been on a landmark tour through seven Chinese cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The group plays Shanghai this weekend, with the tour concluding on Monday.

"All Canadians should feel proud about this tour. The NAC Orchestra’s China Tour belongs to them,” National Arts Centre CEO Peter Herrndorf said in a statement.

“It showcases their musicians and their composers, reaching out and building long-term friendships with the people of China. It’s a musical Team Canada!”

More than 70 NACO musicians have taken the spotlight at major classical concerts, pop-up gigs in unlikely spots including the Beijing Zoo, and musical showcases. They have also participated in workshops, video-conference sessions linking students in Calgary and Shanghai and other educational events alongside Chinese musical peers.

"Politics are very complicated. As the wind changes, the politics change. The people change. Music is going to stay," double bass player Marjolaine Fournier told CBC News.

The partnership will continue even after the tour, with NACO to host China's National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra for a concert in Ottawa in fall 2014.

In the attached video, CBC's Andrew Lee reports on the orchestra's role fostering cultural exchange and understanding between Canada and China.

Selecting suitably soothing music to play at the Beijing Zoo's panda compound took some doing. The NACO's pop-up brass trio — Donald Renshaw on trombone, Steven van Gulik on trumpet and Julie Fauteux on French horn — delighted passersby with performances of Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens, Scarborough Fair by Paul Simon, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and a minuet by Beethoven. (Fred Cattroll/National Arts Centre Orchestra)

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