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The soundtrack for the Asian Century


22 October 2012

The Sydney Symphony's tour of China is partly sponsored by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, as part of an effort to increase educational links with China.
The Sydney Symphony's tour of China is partly sponsored by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, as part of an effort to increase educational links with China.

In 1975, a group of five Chinese students were the first to come to study in Australia. Almost 40 years later that figure has grown to more than 167,000.

This year is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and China. As part of the anniversary celebrations the Sydney Symphony is embarking on a 10-day tour of China: 90 musicians will perform in six cities across China, including the famous National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, affectionately known as 'The Egg'.

Dr Karl Kramer, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, will accompany the Sydney Symphony tour to explore further opportunities for students from the Conservatorium to study in China. During the visit he will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Xinghai Conservatory of Music, the only higher music education institution in southern China.

Ahead of the tour, Federal Minister for Tertiary Education Senator Chris Evans visited the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to meet with staff and students and celebrate the cultural bonds between Australia and China.

"With the rapid rise of the Asian region in terms of the global economy, more Australians need to have the experience of Asia first-hand," Senator Evans said.

"The next generation of Australian professionals, including our musicians, should have the best possible knowledge of Asia in order to seize the new opportunities."

Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Dr Karl Kramer.
Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Dr Karl Kramer.

"Australia's relationship with China is sophisticated and multifaceted, encompassing economic, cultural and people-to-people connections," says Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, the University of Sydney.

"The University has been actively engaged in understanding China for almost a century, since we first began teaching Chinese language and culture to our students in the early 20th century.

"This project is a wonderful example of how we are working in cooperation with the federal and state governments and private companies to continue building on 40 years of diplomatic ties between Australia and China."

Dr Kramer believes this tour builds on the existing links, tours and master classes between students and academics in China and Australia. Delegations from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music have visited the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in the past months. Next month, Maestro Chen Zuohuang, the Artistic Director of China National Center for the Performing Arts, will give a lecture at the Sydney Conservatorium on the current and developing state of classical music in China.

"Our visit to China is the second visit by the Sydney Symphony. Not only does it demonstrate the close musical ties we have, it also celebrates broader relationships, as several members of the orchestra are also members of the Conservatorium's faculty," Kramer says.

"I am looking forward to working with the students at the Shanghai Conservatory in a master class on the music of Strauss and Britten; and to establishing and strengthening ties with my colleagues in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

"As the world gets smaller and smaller, it's great to think the soundtrack of our relationship with China will comprise the music of Dvorak, Beethoven, Shostakovich and Chinese composer Qigang, bridging monuments of western music with that of the east."


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Enquiries: Sally Sitou, 9351 8647, sally.sitou@sydney.edu.au