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On-demand interviews with local and national classical music artists.

COYO Postcards from China: Final Day

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 8 update from David Burnett, Tuba

Written after dinner on the final night of the tour

I don't think there's any way to describe this tour other than extraordinary. So many friendships grew and developed over ten short days. People I never spoke to before became good friends. In short, this orchestra grew on a deep and personal level.

Give that credit to past and present COYO managers Ashley Wohlwend and Lauren Generette as well as Joan Napoli and librarian Katie Oppenheim. This tour could have been a train wreck, and every day posed yet another seemingly insurmountable challenge. To that end, the tour never felt disorganized or chaotic. Rather, every move and activity allowed this orchestra to complete its initial goal: to provide world-class performances to our audiences and to further develop our internal cohesion and confidence.

On the performance end, my colleagues and I owe a great deal of thanks to our Music Director Brett Mitchell. It's hokey and predictable to include this, but it's sincere. He's the last to take credit for success, but he plays an enormous role in acquiring it. Small interviews, post concert handshakes and seemingly robotic thank you's don't cut it for me to express my thanks to him and Mr. Feddeck for building the lean and mean orchestra we have today. The orchestra is very much a united ensemble, maintaining and growing the ever important orchestra-conductor relationship.

Most importantly, I'm so pleased to have been able to play in this orchestra for three seasons as tubist, building lifelong friendships with so many talented colleagues. This group really has a family feel to it, making long Saturday afternoons at Severance Hall feel like an extension of home. I'm so very thankful for the opportunity to play with this fine orchestra. 

Finally, I'd like to thank WCLV 104.9 for allowing some of my colleagues and I to cover this tour. Personally, I loved the opportunity to interview  so many special people and friends associated with the tour. I hope these simple interviews were enjoyed back home.

China gave this orchestra an external culture treatment. I'm pleased to report that this tour made the internal culture the strongest I've ever seen.

COYO's family of musicians is bound for bigger and better things as it enters its 30th season. I'm excited to make the shift from my tuba seat to the audience, taking in future performances with the same type of golden enthusiasm that made me fall in love with this orchestra in the first place. 


Wind turbines and fish farms line the Hangzhou Bridge. The bridge spans 35 kilometers and is the second longest in the world.

Fish farms lining the Hangzhou bridge. 

All buses followed this expressway en route to Ningbo. 

Shrimp fishing was a common sight in this Ningbo park. 

This style of meal was served for nearly every lunch and dinner on tour. 

Dragon enthusiast and clarinetist Sammy Rao converted two horn players to take interest in dragons. 

Mysterious caves and picturesque ponds lined the grounds of this private garden. The library here once held the largest collection of books in China.


Chairman Meow?

Bass trombonist Curtis Flack got lost in the garden after devising a fail-proof exit strategy. He found his way out fifteen minutes later. 

Backstage at the theater in Ningbo.

This confusing sign was found in the men's restroom.

From the stage in Ningbo. 

James served as tour guide for the second half of the tour for the blue bus, often breaking up the monotony with Chinese jokes and stories. 

The Shanghai Art Museum boasts the world's most valuable bronze collection and ancient Chinese artifacts. COYO was given VIP treatment by the museum's director due to very friendly relations between the Cleveland Museum of Art and Shanghai. 

Dragon enthusiast and clarinetist Sammy Rao struck gold again upon discovering this ancient dragon mask.

Bilingual trumpeter Luis Clebsch helped a small group communicate with students from Mexico. The Mexican students were spending one month in China to study Mandarin. 

These are not photographs. The orchestra really enjoyed touring an authentic Chinese silk workshop. These full-sized works were priced between $1,200 and $50,000. Many pieces take months to complete. 

The two Sams of the clarient section demanded a photo to showcase their American pride. Our national bird looks great in silk. 

One member of the orchestra who wishes to remain anonymous quipped, "I last got that kind of look when I missed an entrance in rehearsal!"

The orchestra toured the very impressive Jade Buddha temple. Photography was limited due to the deep religious convictions many hold toward these sacred Buddhist grounds. 

One highlight of the tour was the modern Chinese market where many members spent the afternoon haggling with local vendors. Dozens of treasures will be coming back to Cleveland as a result of this.

Joan Napoli and Manager Lauren Generette present Mr. Mitchell with an honorary "expensive fake Rolex" at the farewell dinner.

Mr. Mitchell closed the farewell dinner by thanking the orchestra for buying into his message of teamwork and making this an unforgettable season filled with unprecedented successes.