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On Tuesday, July 11, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra embarked on its historic Asia Tour 2017—a trip that will include the orchestra’s debut performances in China and its first visit to Japan in 19 years.

Music Director Leonard Slatkin will conduct the DSO in 11 concerts from July 14 to 29, from Tokyo to Shanghai, marking his first overseas tour with the orchestra and the DSO’s first international tour since Europe in October 2001.


Leadership Level Support

Sponsors

Major tour support is provided by General Motors, Princeton Management and Lamont Street Partners,
the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Additional support is provided by: Little Caesars Enterprises, Inc., Shinola, Delta Air Lines, Lear, Toyota, the Applebaum Family Foundation, Deloitte, Oakland County Economic Development Corporation, Delphi, Denso, Aisin, Detroit Chinese Business Association, Japan Business Society of Detroit, Michigan-China Innovation Center, and Michigan State University.

JAPAN

Concert 1: Friday, July 14 – Seitoku University, at Kawanami Memorial Hall

Concert 2: Saturday, July 15  – Toyota City, at Toyota-Shi Concert Hall

Concert 3: Sunday, July 16 – Osaka, at Symphony Hall

Concert 4: Monday, July 17 – Tokyo, at Bunkyo Civic Hall

Concert 5: Wednesday, July 19 – Tokyo Nippon Festival, at Tokyo Opera City, Concert Hall

Concert 6: Thursday, July 20 – Fukui, at Harmony Hall Fukui

CHINA

Concert 7: Saturday, July 22 – Suzhou, at Suzhou PolyGrand Theater [Wuzhong District]

Concert 8: Sunday, July 23 – Wuhan, at Wuhan Qintai Concert Hall

Concert 9: Tuesday, July 25 – Changsha, at Changsha Poly Concert Hall

Concert 10: Thursday, July 27 – Chongqing, at Shi Guangnan Grand Theatre [Nan’an District]

Concert 11: Saturday, July 29 – Shanghai, at Shanghai Oriental Art Center

For those in Asia who may not be familiar with the symphony: what unique qualities characterize the DSO?

This season marks my ninth year with the orchestra, and we have developed a unique character in our sound. The strings are very lush, playing with incredible sensitivity and a wide range of dynamics. Our woodwind and brass sections have both young and experienced musicians with very distinct solo abilities as well as a fine blend of tonal nuance. The percussionists are simply spectacular.

Leonard SlatkinYou are also Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL), and have conducted orchestras all over the world. In your experience, how are American orchestras (and perhaps the DSO in particular) similar to or different from orchestras elsewhere?

The orchestral world is changing. When you see an ensemble from America or Europe, you will notice that the makeup of the players is international. So that has created a problem for some orchestras, in that they are starting to sound alike. But my French orchestra retains its individuality because the winds and brass play on instruments made in France, and many of the ONL musicians studied there.

In Detroit, we make sure that each new member of the orchestra learns from those in the ensemble who are experienced. The sound and character is a bit of a combination between the Russian school of my predecessor, Music Director Emeritus Neeme Järvi, and the virtuoso quality of the American tradition. It is this combination that makes our sound different.

How did you come to choose the repertoire for the tour? Could you speak more about your affinity for these pieces?

I always try to program American works, and for this tour we have some of my favorites.

In Japan, we’ll be performing Copland’s Third Symphony, which is probably the single finest statement by an American writing in the symphonic form. I have performed it many times, and this tour coincides with the release of our recording of the piece on the Naxos label. Of interest to many will be that we are playing the “original” version, which means that the cuts that were put in by Bernstein will not be observed.

Double Play, which we’re also performing in Japan, is a piece commissioned by the DSO and written by Cindy McTee, who also happens to be my wife. This is a 15-minute piece that utilizes elements of Ives as well as a jazzy second part. Many years ago, I played a short work by her with the NHK called Circuits.

In China, I’m very excited to conduct Wang Liping’s The Dream of the Red Chamber Capriccio for Cello and Orchestra, which was co-arranged by our guest soloist, Trey Lee. This is music originally written for a 1980s television drama that was and remains massively popular in China. Most of us in the orchestra were unfamiliar with it before programming it for the tour, but we’re expecting the local audience to absolutely love it.

And Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, which is on the program in both Japan and China, is always a favorite because it is simply great music and lots of fun to conduct and play.