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COYO Postcards from China: Day 6

The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra is on tour in China, where they will perform concerts in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Ningbo.  WCLV has signed up three orchestra members as "field reporters" to send back pictures, video, audio, and text of their experiences. 

Day 6 update from Serena Shapard, Principal Second Violin

Written from the hotel in Shanghai after our third concert, at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.

We began our day today with sightseeing around Shanghai, and while our adventures there only skimmed the surface of the city's attractions, they gave us more of a glimpse into the widespread diversity and contrasts of the world's largest city. 

We first visited an elevated walkway along the Bund, an area of Shanghai next to the Huangpu river that holds the city's old banks, hotels, and European-style buildings. From here, we could see the distinct skyline of the city, clouded a bit by both fog and smog. Our visit to the Bund was the first stop of our tour where a large number of musicians (including many wind players) elected to wear breathing masks. Although the air here isn't unbearable, it is certainly different that what we are used to breathing at home. 

We next visited the Yu Gardens, a beautifully landscaped collection of old living quarters and outdoor areas near the middle of the city. These gardens, complete with small ponds of fish and lots of foliage, are quiet and tranquil even though there is a steady stream of visitors trickling through it. According to our tour guide here, the Chinese concept of gardens is different than ours in the United States; here, gardens are integrated into housing arrangements, not contained within a separate area like the gardens we are familiar with at home. 

The Yu Gardens made quite a contrast with the next stop of our sightseeing in Shanghai's Old Town. This part of the city is a collection of narrow, sometimes covered, walkways lined with shops and small restaurants. Sometimes, the streets converge into small squares, which bring a feeling of openness to even the most crowded parts of this area. The visitors there seem to come from all different backgrounds: some are young, some old, some well-off, others poor, some foreign, and others local. We came to China hoping to take in the country's unfamiliar sights, smells, and tastes, and that's just what we found in Shanghai's Old Town. 

In the afternoon, after a waterside lunch at a nearby restaurant, we made our way to the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center for a rehearsal, dinner, and concert. The building itself, crafted to look like a butterfly, stands out as a unique piece of architecture in a city of many uniform buildings. Some elements of our performance, too, such as an emcee-like announcer who introduced our pieces and conductor, stood out from our earlier concerts of the tour. But this was also a concert filled with the same energy and willingness to work together as those earlier performances. Again, our audience excitedly received our playing and met our encore with cheers and applause. Although we have now become very familiar with this tour's program, it is our goal to bring nuances to each performance so that we offer all our audiences the same level of musicality and engagement that we hoped for in our first performance of these pieces. We succeeded in accomplishing this goal tonight in Shanghai, and our final concert in Nigbo tomorrow night presents another opportunity to do so. 

In the morning, we'll take a bus to the fourth stop of our tour, enjoy some sightseeing there in Ningbo, and then dive back into a rehearsal and preparation for the night's concert. Goodnight and we are excited to share more news with you soon! 

Nearly every member of the wind and brass sections wore masks amidst the incredibly dense smog of Shanghai.